By Holly Austin Smith — From her column Speaking Out in the Washington Times Communities
RICHMOND, VA December 27, 2012 ― ‘Tis the season for baking cookies and shopping, singing carols and gift-wrapping; for spending time with family, calling on friends, and spreading holiday cheer to those we know and love. ‘Tis also the season for donating time, money, and gifts in-kind to worthy causes and charitable organizations.
As our nation struggles to recover from an economic recession, charitable organizations are faced not only with budget cuts, but also with a greater demand for their services. As a result, nonprofits have a growing need for private donations just when their resources are at an ebb. As a columnist and speaker, I often encourage my audiences to support their local charities, especially youth-based organizations. While I urge you to donate generously to any charity, I also warn you to be wise about your investment.
Human trafficking is an issue which has gained a wildfire of attention recently; and in turn, scores of anti-trafficking organizations and campaigns have cropped up across the country. The increased attention to this heinous crime and its victims is positive; however, the list of nonprofits is growing so rapidly that it’s nearly impossible to keep up with it. Many of these groups aren’t yet listed with reputable watchdog organizations like Charity Navigator or GuideStar. If you choose to support an innovative, local anti-human trafficking group, then the responsibility of vetting falls on you, the donor.