Unfortunately, it’s fairly easy to set up a charity, and fundraisers can legally keep most of the money donated to the cause 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 www.Give.org (associated with the Better Business Bureau) This organization researches charitable organizations to find out how they use the funds they receive.
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 will be deductible on your tax return.
- Find about how much of each dollar is being used for the cause versus administration costs The more administrative costs, the less of each dollar is being used for those in need Look for the low administrative costs.
- For cash donations, request a receipt to use as documentation on your tax returns All donations over $500 will require additional paperwork, 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 holiday season.