DONATING TO CHARITY?
Do Your Homework First!
As the year end nears, many people start thinking about their taxes and charitable contributions. In fact, Tuesday, November 27, 2018 has been designated as #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving. Donations to a charity recognized under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code are tax deductible for most taxpayers. Americans donate over $400 billion dollars to charity annually!
However, with the proliferation of scams, scammers posing as legitimate charities, and the mismanagement or poor management of even some legitimate charities, it is a good idea to take a few precautionary steps to be sure your charitable contributions are going where you intend and are being used properly. Here are some tips to help you get the most for your charitable dollars.
Be careful what charity you give your money to. Be very wary of any telephone solicitations. Even if the charity sounds legitimate, scammers and disreputable solicitors will use a name very similar to a nationally known and respected charity. There are also solicitors who make it sound like they are from an official agency, such as your local police department, but in fact are paid solicitors who may only turn over a small fraction of what you give to the charitable organization.
Make sure your selected charity spends your money wisely. Some people prefer to “keep it local” with their charitable giving, where they can see the results of their donation, and know where the money is spent. With larger charities, sometimes a significant portion of the funds raised can be spent on administration or the fundraising activities themselves. When considering a charity, a great source of information is Charity Navigator. Charity Navigator provides a simple zero to four star rating on over 9,000 major charities, and also a more detailed rating of zero to one hundred points. Their website also has various lists that may be of interest, such as ten of the best charities everyone has heard of or ten charities overpaying for their for-profit fundraisers. Charity Navigator is also a good source of general information for many unrated charities, including copies of the IRS filings required for a nonprofit. Charity Navigator even provides a “do it yourself” guide to performing your own charity due diligence.
While there are many worthy local and national charities, a little homework before you give can insure your charitable dollars are well spent and the intended recipients actually see your generous donation.