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Giving Tuesday: Here's how to responsibly donate to local nonprofits

The Better Business Bureau said to check the charity's financials, their name and don't be in a rush to give before fully vetting the nonprofit.

PORTLAND, Ore — The day known as Giving Tuesday was started by a New York nonprofit of the same name in 2012. Last year, the nonprofit reported that more than $2 billion dollars was donated on Giving Tuesday to charities around the world and here locally.

Lorna Day is the founder of the Sam Day Foundation, a nonprofit charity named after her son Sam who died of Ewing's Sarcoma, a rare bone cancer, in August 2016.

The Sam Day Foundation raises money to fund research for rare pediatric cancers. During the final days of the year, contributions make up about 10-15% of their annual fundraising, according to Day.

"We're really dependent on people caring about what we're doing, trusting what we're doing and choosing to be a part of it by donating," Day said. "Sam taught us three things in his short life. He taught us to dream big, laugh often and live well, and everything we do as an organization we try to reflect that spirit of Sam and I think people are drawn to that."

The foundation is one of more than 200 charities featured in the Willamette Week Give!Guide.

"This is a really important thing to do," said Give!Guide executive director Toni Tringolo. "It's not about Give!Guide, it's about our community, it's about the quality of life and it's about doing something about where we live to make it better, not just for us but for our family, for our neighbors and to make it noteworthy."

Tringolo said Giving Tuesday is among their biggest days during the publication's two-month run. The annual publication features local charities, each one vetted by the weekly newspaper.

"We're not going to put anyone on the platform that hasn't verified through the IRS, through the nonprofit identification with their federal tax ID number. We also check with the secretary of state in Oregon to make sure that they're all verifiable Oregon registered nonprofits and we see everyone's financials before they're accepted," Tringolo said.

That verification process is exactly what the Better Business Bureau said people should do and gives these tips to make sure a charity is legitimate.

"Some of the things that consumers typically fall for are name similarities," said Logan Hickle, spokesperson for Better Business Bureau Great West and Pacific.

Hickle said people should do an in-depth research on the charity before donating. Review their financials, see where the money is going and how much of a donation goes to the charity. He said a red flag is if a donation is sought out. Be aware of charities wanting a donation right away.

"Any charity that is worth its weight will accept your money tomorrow, just like they'll accept your money today," Hickle said.