The holiday season - and the end of the tax year -
motivates many consumers to donate money to their favorite
charities. In fact, according to the Charity Navigator, more than
one-half of all charitable donations are made during the last six
weeks of the year. However, even with this spirit of sharing, the
past few years have been difficult for nonprofit organizations as
many of them struggled to raise enough money to continue programs.
Fortunately, a recent study by the Chronicle of Philanthropy found
that giving is slowly rebounding.
With more than a half-million federally recognized charities
soliciting contributions, the chances are high that you will be
sought after as a donor. The following are some tips from the
Federal Trade Commission to ensure that you are giving wisely:
• Ask questions. Request identification from the solicitor and read
written information provided. Be certain that the organization has a
clear mission and identifiable goals.
• Be wary of high-pressure appeals. For example, be skeptical if
someone thanks you for a pledge that you do not remember making.
Legitimate charities should not intimidate you into making an
• Do your homework. Before making a donation, call the charity to
find out if the organization is aware of the solicitation and has
authorized the use of its name.
• Do not give cash. For security and tax record purposes, pay by
check. Write the official name of the charity on your check and
always ask for a receipt in return.
For additional help selecting a charitable organization, visit
www.charitynavigator.org. A little research up-front will make sure
that your dollars are put to good use. If the process of selecting a
charity seems daunting, remember that everyone benefits from giving.
Involving your children in the selection of and contribution to a
charity teaches them valuable lessons about giving from their
hearts, not just about the value of a dollar.
By contributing to many groups and non-profit organizations, you
have the opportunity to make a difference in someone's life by
furthering a personal cause.
Charitable gifts made to qualified organizations are tax-deductible.
But be sure your organization meets IRS guidelines, because there
may be different tax breaks when you donate certain types of assets
Finally, if your heart and your wallet have different ideas about
making monetary donations, it may be time to summon your inner
register. An unwanted gift, or your time, could be a welcome
donation to a charitable organization. Also, consider making it your
New Year's resolution to contribute throughout the year. After all,
it is good to remember that need knows no season.
Special to the Eagle