Tis’ the Season for Giving: Tips to Being a Savvy Contributor

This article was last edited on Nov. 4, 2013.

According to the World Giving Index, there are over 1.5 million registered charities in the U.S. That means there are many choices when selecting an organization to receive your charitable donation. You don’t want to make a donation to a fake charity or one that is ineffective or wasteful with its funding. Here are a few tips to help you choose the best organization.

1.        Identify Your Cause : Take a few moments to decide what causes you would like to support. This will help you narrow down your organization choices. Examples of some causes are education, civil rights or domestic violence prevention and support. It is best to choose a cause that closely aligns with your core values or you’ve had personal experience with.

2.        Identify at Least 5 Organizations that Support Your Cause : Friends or family may know of organizations that support your cause. A basic internet search could also help you find some charities as well. Building this list will provide you with some options to choose from before you make a final decision.

3.        Research Each Organization Carefully : After you have created a list of organizations that support your cause, research those organizations in-depth. Websites such as Charity Navigator provide a star ranking for charities that have $1,000,000 in earnings. Charities with 4 stars are those that are excellent organizations to donate to, however charities with 1 star are those that you should avoid. These rankings are given to an organization based upon financial responsibility, transparency, and effectiveness. If you are looking for information for a smaller organization, check with the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance .

4.        Determine How Much You Are Able to Contribute : Once you’ve found an organization that aligns with your core values and is highly ranked by reputable source, it is important to determine how much you can contribute. Remember that you will receive a tax deduction for your donation. To estimate your potential tax deduction based upon your donation click here . Estimating your tax deduction prior to giving may give you the information needed to make a larger donation. Don’t disregard those canned goods and clothing; even if you aren’t making a monetary donation, you can still receive a tax deduction.

5.        Make Your Donation and Follow Up : After you make your donation, subscribe to mailing lists or social media accounts of the organization. This will help you monitor the organization’s progress, and help you see how your funds helped the cause.

 If you follow these tips, you’ll make an informed decision about where your donation will go. Most importantly, you’ll be a savvy contributor.


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