This is the time of year that most Americans feel the most generous consequently the Holidays account for the bulk of charities’ yearly income. Sure it’s a great time to give, but it is important to make sure that your hard-earned money actually does some good.
It’s unfortunate but most people making donations don’t put too much thought into where their dollars are going. According to A survey by Hope Consulting, “…only about a third of donors do any research when making a charitable gift. They’re much more likely to spend time evaluating choices about jobs, business investments, or vacation plans with their family.”
Let’s take a look at some useful tips to help you become an informed donor and make sure your donation will do the most good.
Research — You wouldn’t make a major purchase without first doing some research so why not do some research when considering a donation that has the possibility to make a real change in someone’s life.
Charity Navigator undisputedly the best known charity “watchdog”. According to their website, “Charity Navigator works to guide intelligent giving. By guiding intelligent giving, we aim to advance a more efficient and responsive philanthropic marketplace, in which givers and the charities they support work in tandem to overcome our nation’s and the world’s most persistent challenges. Charity Navigator is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization under the Internal Revenue Code and does not accept any contributions from any charities we evaluate.”
Another top site for determining if a charity is reputable is the old standby… the Better Business Bureau. The BBB keeps track of complaints against businesses and charities. According to the BBB, if a non-profit displays the BBB logo on their website, they have passed a rigorous screening process.
Guide Star while they are not a charity evaluator, they have a database of over 1.8 million nonprofit organizations and make it their mission “…to revolutionize philanthropy by providing information that advances transparency, enables users to make better decisions, and encourages charitable giving.”
Great Nonprofits boasts that they are “The leading developer of tools that allow people to find, review, and share information about great — and perhaps not yet great — nonprofits and charities,”
IRS — that’s right, the Internal Revenue Service; The IRS provides a “search” for IRS approved charities.
This time of year brings out the scammers looking to take advantage of our charitable mood, by finding out as much as you can about the charity, you can avoid fraudsters who try to take advantage of your generosity.
Signs of a charity scam:
These days, charities and fundraisers (groups that solicit funds on behalf of organizations) use the phone, face-to-face contact, email, the internet (including social networking sites), and mobile devices to solicit and obtain donations. Naturally, scammers use these same methods to take advantage of your goodwill. Regardless of how they reach you, avoid any charity or fundraiser that:
- Refuses to provide detailed information about its identity, mission, costs, and how the donation will be used.
- Won’t provide proof that a contribution is tax deductible.
- Uses a name that closely resembles that of a better-known, reputable organization.
- Thanks you for a pledge you don’t remember making.
- Uses high-pressure tactics like trying to get you to donate immediately, without giving you time to think about it and do your research.
- Asks for donations in cash or asks you to wire money.
- Offers to send a courier or overnight delivery service to collect the donation immediately.
- Guarantees sweepstakes winnings in exchange for a contribution. By law, you never have to give a donation to be eligible to win a sweepstakes.
“Your Donation can Change Someone’s Life” …is not just a marketing pitch, it is possible with even a modest amount of charity… you might be surprised with what your donation can accomplish when given to the right organizations.
With a little work you will be able to find a great charitable organization to give to during the holidays.
 Federal Trade Commission. “Consumer Information.” Before Giving to a Charity. Web. 08 Nov. 2013.