We have all been there. Taken in by the plight of someone in need. But what do you do if you want to make sure the organization you want to donate to is worthy and reputable? There are some easy ways you can make sure.
If you are located in the same city as the organization, pick up the telephone and call the organization and ask for the fundraising office. Ask them for their tax id number and ask if your donation would be tax deductible. If the fundraising office cannot give you that tax id number and tells you that the donation would not be tax deductible; thank them and hang up. And run! Do not write these people a check. Even if you are not interested in taking a tax deduction for your donation, the fact that your donation would not be indicates that the organization is not engaged in charitable activities.
The Internal Revenue Service maintains a list of all IRS approved non profits and charities. If you have access to the Internet it is reasonably easy to go to the IRS website (www.irs.gov) and check the charity and non profit section. With recent changes to the statues, the IRS has begun stripping many once charitable organizations of their tax exempt status. That means donations to these organizations are no longer tax deductible. While these organizations may still do fine work in the community; they fail to meet the federal government’s standard of a tax exempt charity. The website is full of sites like the IRS and Guidestar that will provide you with information regarding the organization you are interested in.
Better Business Bureau
Your local Better Business Bureau is also available to provide you with information regarding organizations within your community. Phone your local office and ask if there have been any complaints filed. Keep in mind however, that just because someone has filed a complaint against an organization doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t contribute. Sometimes people file complaints because they didn’t get what they wanted. Not because of anything bad or criminal that the organization has done. By the same token, just because no one has complained, doesn’t mean the organization is completely pure.
Ask around. Most non profit organizations have websites these days and the majority of them list who has donated. Check to see if you know someone on the list. See if other organizations that you are familiar with do business with the non profit. Reputation within a community is a valuable commodity and non profits work hard to keep that reputation as positive as they can. If you are interested in a specific non profit, talk to them. They will be willing to answer your questions and provide you with literature and additional information. If you truly want to see what they do, ask. They will be glad to show you. And this glimpse into the organization will give you an even broader idea of just where your contribution will go and what it will provide within the organization and within the community.
Another excellent option is to make use of independent rating organizations such as charity navigator. Regardless of your methodology it is in good judgement to practice due diligence when it comes to donating your money, time and resources.
If you are interested in organizing your own fundraising learn more on how to fundraise online which will allow you not only to give out of your own pocket but also to equip others to give while creating buzz for worhty causes.
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Posted by Guest Blogger
I have already made many posts about taxes on this blog. The most stunning point to me in those posts is that the rich pay less taxes than the working class in terms of percentage of income–at least in the USA.
I didn’t want to make yet another post about taxes on a blog that is supposed to be about poverty, but I read an article this morning that got my blood boiling. In part, the Buffalo News Editorial says:
Congressional Republicans, who seem to have sworn some kind of blood oath to the preposterously unfair Bush tax cuts–regardless of the damage they do to the economy–now want to eliminate the reduction of the payroll tax they helped to enact last year. The reduction in payroll taxes, while it puts additional stress on Social Security, which it funds, is of greatest benefit to the middle class and working poor.
That’s because it’s a “regressive” tax, taking the same percentage of everyone’s pay, regardless of income level. The amount of income subject to the tax is also capped, meaning a portion of the income of higher earners—sometimes a very large portion—goes untaxed.
In other words, these politicians want to keep the regressive tax system we already have but also make it even more regressive! This is done by simultaneously lowering taxes disproportionately for the rich while increasing government spending and disproportionately increasing taxes on the working poor and middle class.
I understand the psychological complications of a two-party pseudo-democratic system that enable politicians from both parties to get away with a lot of selling out the many to the wealthy special interest few, but I am still surprised these politicians who openly try to make a regressive tax system even more regressive are not overtaken and tarred and feathered or some such by a stampede of angry masses fighting not only for what they think is fair but for what is clearly in their own self-interest. Maybe what gets my blood boiling with this issue is not so much the politicians who I personally have been long convinced are all—that includes both parties—special interest bought self serving liars. Rather what really gets my blood boiling about this kind of issue may be that the masses of people who have the real power in terms both of sheer numbers and productive ability just let themselves get so blatantly exploited.
What do you think? Please comment on this post, comment on any other posts about taxation or discuss the relationship between poverty and taxation in this thread about taxation and poverty in the forums.
Since there are hundreds of charities and non-profit organizations seeking your hard-earned money, choosing the ideal recipient for your donation demands research.
However, a little scrutiny can lead to discovering groups that are supporting causes most important to you, and ones that will use your money most effectively.
By following the below tips you will be able to find the right place for you to donate.
Donate to Familiar Groups
Whether it is a local church group or an international body, the safest way to properly donate your money is to give to organizations that you are most familiar with.
That way you will have a confident grasp of their mission and how exactly they will utilize your donation.
Investigate Each Group’s Legitimacy
There is a wealth of resources available to research the validity and history of any charity. Potential donors can view a tally of all registered organizations through the Internal Revenue Service. Meanwhile, local state charities will be listed with the attorney general’s office.
There are also numerous services online that provide evaluations and even rankings of charities and organizations based on their performance.
Donate to Your Interests
Making a donation choice is easier when giving to a charity or non-profit that advocates causes relevant to your active interests. For example, if you love cars you may be happy to see your dollars going to a car charity institution, or if it’s the environment you love, consider donating to the Sierra Club.
Give Your Time First
Acquiring the most information about a particular group can be done first hand by volunteering. Spending time working with a group will provide direct answers to what they actually do and how well they do it.
Be Certain which Charity You’re Dealing with
The unfortunate reality is that there are many scammers in the world, even in the realm of charitable groups. Dishonest organizations will use nearly identical names of other well-known groups or lie about their missions in an effort to collect donations.
Inquire about Tax-Deductable Donations
Not all gifts are tax-deductible. Generally, only donations given to organizations that are registered charities can be deducted, so ask before handing over that check.
Follow Your Money
The best-run organizations operate with a sense of transparency. Donors and members should have access to annual reports that detail where the group’s funds were allocated and projections of future programs.
Protect Your Money
Like any monetary transaction, personal information such as your credit card number should never be provided via email or over the phone. Avoid donating with cash; instead, try to donate by sending a check directly to the group’s main offices.
Large organizations like hospitals and universities have a wealth of funds and resources, which is why they are so good at soliciting for your money. While both give much to their communities, smaller organizations may be struggling just to stay afloat and so are in greater need of your donation.
Donating money to a good cause is easy, but it helps to do a little homework to ensure that your dollars are used to their fullest. So what group do you want most to have your donation?
Jessy is a frugal and family blogger for www.CreditCardFinder.com.au, the free tool to compare credit cards online. Learn about charity credit cards (as well as other types of credit cards) here.
Posted by Guest Blogger
Today I want to feature a book by New York Times reporter and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist Jason DeParle. American Dream is a classic of literary journalism. It tells the story of the millions of women sent to work as a result of Bill Clinton’s drive to “end welfare.” The stories in the book speak to the question: If as the American dream goes we live in a country where anyone can make it, why generation after generation don’t some families make it?
And here is a quote about poverty from page 328 of the book that I find particularly poignant: “At $5.15 an hour, the real value of the minimum wage is lower than in 1950 when Hattie Mae was still picking cotton.”
I was recently contacted by Santo Purnama of CultureUnplugged.com about their non-profit film and documentary archive for social impact. I looked through their hunger and poverty section, finding many interesting videos. This one about micro-finance stood out to me in particular since micro-finance has intrigued me for a while:
Here are a few older posts from this blog about microfinance:
Posted by Scott Hughes