Giving wisely to charities during the holidays

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by Andrea Lutz

NWCN.com

Posted on November 30, 2012 at 9:56 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 4 at 7:53 AM

BOISE –The holidays move many to get into the giving spirit. Many charities are in need of your generosity, but you want to be wise when it comes to giving your money. 

Dale Dixon with the Better Business advises people to research any charity, before making the decision to give. 

“We definitely encourage people to be generous but be generous through wise research,” said Dixon.

Dixon says if you are unsure about the organization, get online, and search it. By using the Better Business Bureau’s website, Dixon said you should be able to learn a lot about the nonprofit and where the money is specifically going.

“Where is the proof?” asked Dixon. “Where is the disclaimer on your website, where is the handout you can give me with this I want to see transparency.”

Friday, KTVB asked that question to members of the Calvary Church, which operates the lot, just off Franklin in Boise.

In the lot stands close to six hundred Christmas trees, ready to be sold and a sign that reads, “Proceeds go to needy families.”

“Everybody needs Christmas trees,” said Rick Karaffa who volunteers his time to work security at the lot.

“Things have been really tough for a lot of people so it's kind of nice to be able to give back,” he said.

Karaffa said the proceeds from the trees really do go to needy families, in India and to verify that, he handed out a flyer explaining how the Chapel Missions, India program works.

“It briefly explains what we are doing and why we are doing it,” said Karaffa.

Chapel Missions is an outreach donation program of the church. According to Lauren Phillips, an administrator of the program, they have been donating to poor families in India for 23 years.

“People come to the lot and they want to know where the money is going,” said Phillips.

She explains that after the cost to get the trees is paid, the rest of the money made from the purchase of a Christmas tree, which is about half -- goes back to families in India.

Phillips also says that this year a portion of the proceeds will stay in Idaho to help local families.

“Our books are open, we are a 501c 3, it's all there to be seen if anybody has any questions,” said Phillips. 

Asking those questions, is also what Dixon advises to do, if you can't find what you are looking for online

“If there is this sense of urgency that you can’t wait, you can’t take time to do research, you have to give right now, that should be a major red flag,” said Dixon.  “Step back and say wait a minute and even more reason to do the research.”

Dixon also says, anyone can walk into the office of a nonprofit and ask to see the organization’s IRS- Form 990, which will gives specific information concerning how the organization spends the money donated.
   
Churches are exempt from having to file a 990 with the IRS.

For more information on wise giving, visit the BBB’s website here.
 

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