Giving to a charity is something Americans are well known for. Not only do we support our own, but we are recognized the world over for our generosity in times of need. No matter if it is an earthquake, tsunami, hurricane, typhoon or other natural disasters, Americans are usually the first to respond.
Charitable organizations that offer tax exemptions are one of the fastest growing business sectors. There are over 2 million nonprofits in the US and getting funding is very competitive. Sifting through all of them to find those you feel are truly worthy can be a daunting task.
Add to that the fact that many charities are facing drastic government or other budget cuts while seeing their potential client’s needs steadily increasing. Many charities are now finding it worthwhile to employ professional services that use mail and phone solicitations. Some are even increasing their advertising budgets to meet their financial demands.
There are increasing appeals for our support and it can get confusing as to which charities are the most accountable and deserving.
Here are a few tips from CharityWatch.org to make sure your hard-earned dollars go to accomplishing the most good.
Trust, Yet Verify
1. Don’t even be afraid to ask for information about any charity. An honest, forthright agency should not hesitate to gain your trust first.
How Much Goes Where?
2. See what kind of ratio they maintain for the money that gets into the field and their administration and fundraising costs. Some may go to great lengths to mask their expenditures or exorbitant salaries. Newer organizations, or those supporting less popular issues, may need to expend more as they grow and gain long-term support.
If It’s Legit, It Will Be There
3. Avoid the temptation to make spur of the moment donations. Know who you are dealing with. Especially in times of great disasters there is an upsurge in those wishing to personally profit by taking advantage of other’s generosity and desire to help.
4. Get receipts for your records. This is important for your tax records and if something does not seem right later. It is strongly suggested you avoid giving your credit card info to anyone you are not 100% sure about. Take a few extra minutes and send a check or money order if you have any qualms whatsoever.
Not Everything Is Tax Deductible
5. If you are interested in a tax deduction, it is necessary for that particular organization to have a tax exempt letter to provide for you. There is a difference between a tax-exempt organization – one that is not required to pay taxes – and being qualified as one whose donations are a tax-deductible.
6. Do your due diligence so you avoid ‘spoof’ sites or solicitors. Check with state charity registrars or watchdog groups.
It May Not Be Best To Follow Your Heart
7. Don’t let your emotions get in the way. It can be hard to say no to a emotional, heart-tugging story. Always verify the legitimacy of any appeal.
Somebody Is Paying For Those Freebies
8. If any solicitation includes a gift of any sort, it is yours to keep if it was not specifically ordered. You are not obligated to make any donation to keep or use it. Take into consideration the higher cost this organization is incurring by offering such freebies.
Again, Verify First
9. Check with local, state or federal agencies to see if any complaints may have been filed. Many organizations are now required by law to register each year with the IRS or state agencies if they have a certain amount of annual incomes.
Keep Within Your Budget
10. Once you have a found a charity you are convinced is doing something you consider worthwhile, be as generous as possible. There is a lot of work that needs to be done. If at all possible, take a few minutes and make your regular donations a part of your family budget.
This is why I have this site. I know that if any organization were to get behind my idea, they will be blessed with a tremendous funding source.
Contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org)if you can see the potential of sponsoring a World Record Event that will focus the eyes of the country upon your organization.