As the holidays approach, people everywhere become motivated to share some holiday cheer with those less fortunate. This is a wonderful thing…there is so much need in our communities both local and worldwide. BUT (and isn’t there always a BUT?), not all charities and/or requests for donations are created equal. To help you avoid the Grinch who’s up to no good, we offer a few tips to guide your giving.
There are several organizations out there designed to help guide your charitable giving and they provide valuable information. The Better Business Bureau is always a wealth of important information and the holidays are no exception. Their page at https://www.bbb.org/pittsburgh/holiday-resource-center/wise-giving-tips-for-holiday-donations/ offers several tips and additional links to help you become a wise giver.
If you find a new charity that tugs at your heartstrings, Charity Navigator (www.charitynavigator.org) rates a multitude of charities on things like their fiscal responsibility (how much of their donations actually go to help those in need and how much goes to pay salaries and other administrative expenses), their leadership and whether the charity acts in an ethical and effective manner. In the site’s search bar, simply enter the name of the charity to which you’d like to donate and the details, along with a numerical rating, will pop up.
To be sure your selected charity is, in fact, a 501(c)3 organization, turn to the IRS for help. This link (https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/tax-exempt-organization-search) on the IRS website allows you to search for the name of your charity to determine that it is a recognized non-profit and that your contributions will be tax deductible.
Are you a numbers kind of person? If so, you’ll want to check out GuideStar (www.guidestar.org). GuideStar has similar information as some of the other sites mentioned above but, in addition, they maintain detailed financial information on 501(c)3 organizations. Through GuideStar, you can review the 990 tax documents that will help you evaluate the legitimacy of the organization in question. These forms are required of all non-profit groups. They are required to be up-to-date and available to the public. Should an organization not have this information readily available for your review, it could be an indication that you should reevaluate your planned donation.
As you plan to share the holiday spirit, be sure that spirit is having the impact you want it to have. The Grinch may have tried to steal Christmas, but he doesn’t have to steal your money!
However you celebrate this season, we wish you happiness and joy and a very successful 2020!