What do people need to look for when making a decision on which charity to donate to?
It can be difficult to choose which charity deserves a slice of one’s hard-earned paycheck. From children’s charities, to helping veterans, to supporting the environment, it sometimes seems that there are just too many worthy causes in need. So where to start? Here are some tips:
Give to familiar organizations. No matter how strongly they may tug on heartstrings in the moment, be wary of just donating to people on a street corner. There is no way of knowing exactly where the money is going, and how much of it is being put to good use. Sure, it may feel good in the moment, but the goal should be long-term, efficacious results.
Be wary of similar-named charities. Sadly, charities aren’t usually creatively named and almost always sound similar. This is compounded by the fact that charities in different states can sometimes share the exact same name and be totally unrelated.
Ensure the contribution is tax deductible. It should be known that giving to a charity isn’t the same as donating to a non-profit or not-for-profit organization, so be sure to ask. When giving to charities, one can deduct donations when it comes time to file taxes. This is not true of other types of organizations like non-profits.
Make sure the organization is lawful and legitimate. The IRS keeps a quick-reference list that denotes registered charities at http://www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits/Search-for-Charities. Unfortunately, it’s common for scam organizations to be set up that mimic charity groups that prey on unsuspecting good Samaritans. Don’t be a victim and do some homework before cutting a check.
Keep info secure. If an organization asks for credit card info or personal details over the phone, either through an email or in a door-to-door visit think twice. Just because someone appears to be a charity worker doesn’t mean that they are a kindhearted and ethical individual, and credit card fraud should be a constant concern when people are asking for such info.
Overall, Fielding Charities wants people to know that giving to charity can (and should) be a selfless, rewarding act that has a tremendously positive influence in the world. Much of society’s ills are being combated via charity, and there are hundreds, if not thousands, of reputable institutions that deserve support. By paying attention and keeping close tabs on what these charities are doing, donors are in the best position to protect them and help causes in need across the community.