Ensure that the organisation is not a front for terrorists.
- Assuming that only “low overhead” matters. How much money a charity spends on the actual cause—as compared to how much goes toward fundraising and administration—is an important factor, but it’s not the whole story. A charity with impressive financial ratios could have other significant problems such as insufficient transparency, inadequate board activity and inaccurate appeals.
- Failing to do your research before you give. Even good friends may not have fully researched the charities they endorse, so don’t just take their word for it. Expertise is available. Go to www.bbb.org/charity to verify that a charity meets the BBB’s 20 Standards for Charity Accountability.
- Succumbing to high-pressure, emotional pitches. Giving on the spot is never necessary, no matter how hard a telemarketer or door-to-door solicitor pushes it. The charity that needs your money today will welcome it just as much tomorrow.
- Assuming that the charity wants any item you donate. Worn out, unusable or unwanted donated goods cost charities millions of dollars each year because the organization has to bear the cost of tossing the unacceptable donation. If you have questions about an item’s acceptability, call the charity and ask.
- Mistaking a charity’s identity. With so many charities in existence, their names can blur in a donor’s mind and similar-sounding organizations are common. Be sure you know which charity you’re supporting and that it’s not a case of mistaken identity.
Tax Tip 1: Be sure that you are donating to a qualified charity. Check out the annual list of such charities at IRS – Search for Charities.
Tax Tip 2: Be sure to understand the amount that you can deduct with your itemized deduction on Schedule A.