As we enter into the “Giving Season”, as my fundraising colleagues call it, here are a few tips regarding charitable donations and gifts that can assist you in celebrating the season:
Make sure they’re legit
While the holiday season brings out the best in most, the widespread generosity and merry feelings can set the stage for some not-so-charitable scams. Before writing a check to a organization you’ve never heard of, do a little research to make sure they are legit. BBB’s Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, and GuideStar maintain online databases on nonprofit organizations.
According to consumer writer Sid Kirchheimer, trustworthy charities will spend less than 35 percent of donations on fundraising and administrative costs. If an organization refuses to provide detailed information about its legal structure, finances, and how the donation will be used, it’s probably a scam as such disclosure is standard in the legitimate nonprofit world. You can also check out the IRS online database to find out which organizations are eligible to receive tax deductible contributions.
Whenever donating to an organization, make sure you get proper documentation of the charitable contributor. Never send cash – always stick to check or credit card – and be sure to never provide your banking information or card number to an organization that you haven’t confirmed was legitimate.
Also, be sure you can distinguish between the term “tax exempt” and “tax deductible.” Tax exempt means the organization doesn’t have to pay taxes, while tax deductible means you can deduct your contribution on your income tax return (good news for us entrepreneurs). Proper documentation (like a receipt) will be required to accompany your tax records.
Ready to give?
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