Many of use feel generous this time of the year and want to be able to give back. Unfortunately, there are people out there that may want to take advantage of our good will.
What you should know about Charitable Giving.
You have probably received the phone calls or items in the mail asking you for donations for a worthy cause.
While you may want to help out everyone, it is not always possible and it may occasionally not be a good idea.
There are several ways in which we can give back.
- Monetary donations
- Objects other than money, such as clothing or diapers.
- Our labor
To give items other than money it is a good idea to call or contact the organization and ask when kind of donations they are looking for. It may also be a good idea ask if they are recognized by the IRS and can provide you with what is needed in order to make a deduction on your taxes.
There plenty of charitable organizations that are in need of labor as well this time of the year. You can often find one by contacting your parish, local humane society or even local schools.
Thinking about making a monetary donation this holiday season?
The FTC suggests taking precautions to make sure your donation benefits the people and organizations you want to help.
- Ask for detailed information about the charity, including name, address, and telephone number.
- Get the exact name of the organization and do some research. Searching the name of the organization online — especially with the word “complaint(s)” or “scam”— is one way to learn about its reputation.
- Call the charity. Find out if the organization is aware of the solicitation and has authorized the use of its name. The organization’s development staff should be able to help you.
- Find out if the charity or fundraiser must be registered in your state by contacting the National Association of State Charity Officials.
- Check if the charity is trustworthy by contacting the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, or GuideStar.
- Ask if the caller is a paid fundraiser. If so, ask:
- The name of the charity they represent
- The percentage of your donation that will go to the charity
- How much will go to the actual cause to which you’re donating
- How much will go to the fundraiser
- Keep a record of your donations.
- Make an annual donation plan. That way, you can decide which causes to support and which reputable charities should receive your donations.
- Visit this Internal Revenue Service (IRS) webpage to find out which organizations are eligible to receive tax deductible contributions.
- Know the difference between “tax exempt” and “tax deductible.” Tax exempt means the organization doesn’t have to pay taxes. Tax deductible means you can deduct your contribution on your federal income tax return.
- Never send cash donations. For security and tax purposes, it’s best to pay by check — made payable to the charity — or by credit card.
- Never wire money to someone claiming to be a charity. Scammers often request donations to be wired because wiring money is like sending cash: once you send it, you can’t get it back.
- Do not provide your credit or check card number, bank account number or any personal information until you’ve thoroughly researched the charity.
- Be wary of charities that spring up too suddenly in response to current events and natural disasters. Even if they are legitimate, they probably don’t have the infrastructure to get the donations to the affected area or people.
- If a donation request comes from a group claiming to help your local community (for example, local police or firefighters), ask the local agency if they have heard of the group and are getting financial support.
- What about texting? If you text to donate, the charge will show up on your mobile phone bill. If you’ve asked your mobile phone provider to block premium text messages — texts that cost extra — then you won’t be able to donate this way.
If you think you’ve been the victim of a charity scam, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
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