Wow! What a year! With everything that’s happened this year and now the approaching holidays, more people may be in need of assistance AND more people may feel moved to help. This is a wonderful thing…there is so much need in our communities both local and worldwide, especially this year. There are many opportunities to help but sometimes it seems like there are just as many ways to be scammed. To help you be sure you’re donating to a legitimate charity, we’re sharing some tips below.
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 covering a wide variety of charities. Their page at https://www.give.org 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.
Donating money is not the only way to give. Donating your time and talent can be even more impactful and rewarding. If your will to help is larger than your wallet, check out https://www.volunteermatch.org to discover volunteer opportunities near you. Simply enter your zip code on the home page and you’ll discover a variety of organizations seeking volunteer help. One of those could be just what you need. Plus, when you click on a charity that interests you, you’ll see a list of who would be a good volunteer (age, group/individual, etc.). If you’re looking for a family project, you should be able to find one here.
There you have it…several ways to spread a little holiday cheer this year. However you celebrate this season, we wish you happiness, joy, good health and a very successful 2021!