CHECK A CHARITY
Tips for Donating to Charities
- Do your research. There are more than 1 million charities registered with the IRS. Without a doubt, there is at least one working on the issues that you care about. Compare similar organizations and how they operate by visiting Guide Star, Charity Navigator, or Better Business Bureau. Make the most of your donations by giving to groups that use funds as you see fit. Avoid charities that make emotional appeals but don't answer your questions. Any legitimate organization should be glad to give you answers and provide written information about its programs and finances.
- Make sure your gift is tax-deductible. The government recognizes the value of charitable organizations and most contributions to recognized charities are tax-deductible. However, your donation must be given to a qualified charitable organization. To be certain, visit the IRS website. You must also keep adequate records, so make sure the charity provides written acknowledgment of your donation.
- Watch out for imposters. Bogus charities often use names or logos that resemble those of well-established, reputable organizations. Before you respond to a solicitation from an unfamiliar organization, call them to confirm that it exists and is aware of any fundraising efforts on its behalf.
- Resist impulse decisions to donate. Telephone and door-to-door solicitations may be earnest requests for your support but be wary of scam artists who want your money fast. No legitimate organization will insist that you donate immediately. Request written materials about the charity and read up to learn more before making a decision. Remember, telemarketing and direct mail costs will eat up a large portion of your donation so the best thing to do is donate directly to your chosen charity.
- Be careful with cash donations. Legitimate charities will be pleased to receive a contribution by check. Never send contributions with a "runner," by wire or with an overnight parcel pick-up service. Always make the check payable to the organization and never the individual collecting the donation.
- If you don't remember a pledge, you probably didn't make one. Watch out for solicitations that resemble an invoice or come from an unfamiliar organization thanking you for your previous support. Regardless of your giving history, consumers have no obligation to donate.
- Consider fund-raising costs. When you buy merchandise or receive free goods as part of your donation, these items are paid for out of your contribution. That means less of your donation may go to the charity.
- Never give out personal information. Do not give information such as your birth date, social security number, credit card number, checking account number or any financial information, to a solicitor either by telephone, mail or door-to-door.
If you have concerns about a solicitation, please file a complaint.