TIPS FOR DONORS
The Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance (give.org) offers the following tips for making sure your donation goes to the cause you wish to help:
1. Get the charity’s exact name. With so many charities in existence, mistaken identity is a common problem. Thousands of charities have “cancer” in their name, for example, but no connection with one another.
2. Resist pressure to give on the spot, whether from a telemarketer or door-to-door solicitor. Take time to do your research first.
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3. Be wary of emotional appeals. What matters is not how tragic the problem is but what the charity is doing to help.
4. Get specifics. If the charity says it’s helping the homeless, for example, ask how and where it’s working.
5. Check websites for basic information. A charity’s mission, program and finances should be available on its site. If not, check for a report at www.give.org.
6. The N.C. Secretary of State’s office licenses most charities or professional fundraising organizations operating in this state and keeps a searchable database of each organization’s financial information at www.secretary.state.nc.us/search/index/csl. Information also can be obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 888-830-4989.
7. Don’t assume that every soliciting organization is tax exempt. You can check an organization’s tax status at irs.gov/app/eos.
If you itemize your tax return, your contributions to qualified nonprofits may result in a tax deduction. Here are some tips to keep in mind at tax time:
1. The value of volunteer time or services to a charitable organization is not deductible. However, out-of-pocket expenses directly related to voluntary service usually are.
2. Contributions for which the donor receives a gift or other benefits are deductible only to the extent that the donation exceeds the value of the benefit received.
3. Direct contributions to needy individuals are not deductible. To be tax deductible, contributions must be made to qualified organizations.
4. Keeping records of contributions is essential for itemizers. Acceptable records include bank records and written communications from the charity.
5. Donated property may generally be deducted at the fair market value of the property at the time of the contribution.
6. There are more than 20 categories of tax-exempt status. In general, only organizations classified as 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(19) are eligible to receive contributions deductible as charitable gifts. Check the organization’s website www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits/Exempt-Organizations-Select-Check for tax-exempt status.
SOURCES: Give.org, IRS