At this time of year, we are all swamped with letters, phone calls, and emails from charities. It’s natural.
After all, people are likely to be at their most generous during the holidays. Not to mention that philanthropic gifts need to be clocked in by December 31st to receive a tax deduction.
It’s no wonder that, traditionally, charities have received the bulk of their yearly donations during the last couple of months of the year. Giving Center is an IRS approved 501(c)3 nonprofit located in the United States, and their busiest time of the year is right now!
It’s a great time to give. But it’s also essential to make sure that you donate your hard-earned dollars well. That takes more than a generous heart. It also takes the rational thought of a hard-nosed consumer who can pick the best choices from a myriad of opportunities.
Unfortunately, many donors don’t put that much thought into where their donations go. When they do research charities, people often focus on the wrong data.
Today, charities offer so much more information about results, and that is good. Make sure that your choice of charities provides information about how well they accomplish what they set out to do.
Here are four tips to help you become a smarter donor by making sure that your charitable contribution goes where it is sure to do the best:
1. Be sure the charity you are donating to is an IRS approved 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. There are vast charities who spam donors during the holidays. Be sure to check that the organization you are donating to has an EIN and verify them with the IRS.
2. Don’t become a social dummy! In a world of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, it is easy to get carried away with the fundraising appeals coming your way. But stop and do your research before giving.
Check out each charity and make sure you know who is behind the appeal. If in doubt, say no. It’s also much better to give more to a few worthwhile charities than small amounts to many. Make your donation count by bulking it up.
3. Show your trust in your charities even more by giving recurring gifts. You can set up a monthly donation with your credit card or through your bank. Recurring income can mean financial stability for a charity. And you won’t have to remember to give frequently. It will be automatic.
Add to Your Emergency Giving
If you gave earlier in the year to an organization that helped in a disaster (think of the Ebola crisis, hurricanes, and earthquakes), go back to that organization and give more.
Much of the need from any disaster comes later, during the recovery period. Your continued support will mean so much to that nonprofit and the people it helps.
Also, make a financial donation instead of goods. Things like clothing or household supplies all have to be sorted and shipped, entailing many hours that could be spent in better ways. And with money, an organization can buy what they need closer to the emergency site.
There is no doubt that giving makes us feel good. So go ahead, be generous this holiday season. If you do so with both your head and your heart, your giving will warm you and others for a long time to come.