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Our view: Give what you can this season, but give wisely

 
 
updated: 12/1/2017 5:56 PM

Now that you have your family and friends and yourself covered for holiday gifts, why not take some time to give a helping hand those who don't have the wherewithal to buy their dreams, those whose kids might not have much under a tree on Christmas morning? Or those who need food and shelter, people who help animals, people who need cancer treatments?

If only we put as much thought into who we give our hard-earned money to as we do when we set out to snag one of those cut-rate $200 big-screen TVs.

Not every organization raising money is on the up and up. You'll find organizations with the most wholesome-sounding names pocketing the money they collect from unsuspecting, big-hearted people.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan this month announced a settlement led by Illinois and other states to dissolve VietNow, an alleged nonprofit based in Rockford, that claimed to have raised money to help veterans overcome PTSD and get jobs. The organization misled donors about how the money was used.

"For years VietNow has scammed donations from people who thought their money would be used to support necessary services for our military veterans," Madigan said in a news release. "Instead, VietNow pocketed donations and did virtually nothing for veterans."

Please don't let the scammers dissuade you from donating. Keeping it local -- donating to charities you know and trust -- is one way. But if you want to give to bigger groups, there are several trustworthy organizations that will help you navigate the waters of charitable giving. They will tell you which are on the up and up, which contribute the most to people or causes in need -- and which ones to avoid.

• Charity Watch: https://www.charitywatch.org/top-rated-charities

• The Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance: http://give.org/

• Charity Navigator: HTTPS://www.charitynavigator.org/

It's human nature to help others. But you'll sleep better if you do a little research first.