Tips for Smart Charitable Giving
Whether you’re planning to donate to charity in your name or make charity donations for others in lieu of gifts, holiday giving is a wonderful way to get in the spirit and focus on the greater good. However, just as with any financial transaction, you need to be careful when donating to charities, especially during the holiday season. It’s not uncommon for fraudulent charities and other scams to pop up this time of year, only to disappear after the New Year. Follow these tips to ensure your holiday giving is done safely and will accomplish what you intend it to:
Choose Your Charity — Rather than responding to phone calls, emails or text pleas for donations, you should proactively seek out the charities you want to donate to. Visiting your chosen charities’ websites directly and making donations there means you can be sure your money is going to the right place.
Perform Your Due Diligence — Visit a site such as Charity Navigator or Charity Watch to determine before you donate, to make sure the charities you’re considering are legitimate. Additionally, these sites can give you more details on the charity, such as how much of your donation will go toward funding programs, administrative costs and other expenses.
Pay with a Credit Card — Make your donations with a credit card, rather than using a debit card. That way, if anything fraudulent occurs, you will have an easier time disputing the charges and having them reversed. Of course, you’ll want to have a plan to pay off those credit card bills as soon as they arrive in January.
Look into Matching Donations — Many employers team up with one (or more) charities and offer to match any donations their employees make. Check to see if your employer offers this perk. If they do, your donation to the partner charity will become even more valuable.
Take the Credit — Charities aren’t the only ones who benefit from your giving. You may also be able to take a credit on your 2016 taxes for any donations you make during the holidays. For donations up to $250, all you need is your credit card statement (or canceled check) for IRS purposes. For donations larger than $250, you’ll want to get a detailed receipt from the organization.