Southeast Texans have a generous giving spirit and
are faced regularly with big decisions about contributing to various
local, national and international charitable organizations.
"In order to ensure that these dollars are put to proper use,
contributors should plan their giving, ask for detailed information
about the organizations soliciting their support, and get all the
facts before they make a giving decision," said Michael Clayton,
President/CEO of the Better Business Bureau.
The Better Business Bureau advises individuals and businesses of
some basic tips to consider when making charitable donations:
Just because an organization is a non-profit does not mean that it
is a charitable organization and thus your donation is tax
The non-profit must be recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3)
organization to be eligible for a tax deduction. Do not give cash;
always make contributions by check and made payable to the charity,
not to the individual collecting the donation. Keep records of your
contribution so you can document your charitable giving at tax time.
Receipts from the organization are necessary for gifts over $250.
Although the value of your time as a volunteer is not deductible,
out-of-pocket expenses (including transportation costs) directly
related to volunteer service to a charity are deductible.
Don't be fooled by names that look impressive or that closely
resemble the name of a well-known organization. Investigate the
organization with the Better Business Bureau, and remember that
charities in Texas are not strictly regulated. The BBB of Southeast
Texas reports on charities soliciting in its 8-counties service
region, as well as other national charitable organizations. "The
next time you receive an appeal, and before you make your decision
as to your participation, contact the BBB for a report on the
organization," said Clayton.
They are available 24 hours a day by calling 835- 5348.