My heart breaks with all the information and photos from the California Wild Fires. We all want to help and these people need our help. but you want to give where your money will do the best and not go to scammers. If you choose to give, and I’m sure you do, make sure your money goes to those in need through a charity that you have researched.
This is also the time of year when you are receiving mail / calls from many charities who are asking for donations in this holiday season. Check them out as well.
Unfortunately, it’s fairly easy to set up a charity, and fundraisers can legally keep most of the money donated to the cause. Not to mention the scammers who are out there to take your money. Before you donate, find out whether the charity is legitimate. You should also find out how your money will be spent.
You can start your research at Give or Charity Navigator. These organizations research charitable organizations to find out how they use the funds they receive – how much actually goes to the people in need versus other expenses.
Here are some tips to help in your research:
- Find out if the charitable organization has a 501(c) status (IRS code for non-profit organizations). Non-profits have stricter requirements, and your donation may be deductible on your tax return.
- Find about how much of each dollar is being used for the cause versus administration costs and other expenses. The more expenses, the less of each dollar is being used for those in need. Look for the lowest administrative costs.
- For cash donations, request a receipt to use as documentation on your tax returns. All donations over $500 will require additional documntation, so speak with your tax preparer ahead of time.
- When donating non-cash items such as food, clothing, furniture, etc, you will need an itemized list of the items you donated and the total value. Most charities will ask you to value your own items.
Make sure you get a receipt for your donations with the charity’s information on it.
Do your research and chose the organization(s) wisely. This is a great way to help out others who are less fortunate than you during this season of giving.