Tips When Donating to Charity
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Tips for Donating
     Tips for Seniors

Tips For Donating

Some of Charity Navigator's tips for giving on these websites include:

  • Avoid telemarketers. Instead, ask them to send you written information about the organization. These for-profit professional fundraisers keep from 25% 95% of the money contributed. If you like what you hear on the phone, look up the charity, and when satisfied that it is a cause you want to support, send a check or contribute online directly to the organization (never send cash), cutting out the middleman telemarketing organization, ensuring that 100% of your contribution goes where intended.
  • Be careful of imposters and sound-alike names. How many of us can tell the difference between an appeal from the Children's Charity Fund and the Children's Defense Fund, or the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance and the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition? Their names sound the same, but their performances are very different. Scammers also count on you not being able to tell the difference. Unfortunately, bogus charities often claim to be police or firefighter organizations.
  • Don't take a mailer's or caller's word that you gave before. Check your records or keep a list of the charities you have given to near your phone(s). And if you do contribute to a legitimate charity, specifically request that they NOT sell or give your information to any other organization. Otherwise, they will share it... which is probably why you are being solicited by organizations that you never contributed to.
    And if your information has been shared and you start to get a rash of mail solicitations, read about how you can stop them.
  • Don't allow yourself to be pressured. Well-run and authentic charities do NOT use pressure tactics. And never, ever give your social security number, credit card or bank account information, or your birth date over the phone.
  • Don't feel obligated to make a donation to charities that send you a gift (e.g., mailing labels, cards, etc.). Check out the charity and only contribute to ones that you want to support.
  • Make sure your donation is tax deductible, that the charity is registered as a nonprofit with the IRS. If it isn't, it's probably a scam... and don't take their word for it. Verify it yourself by checking the Charity Navigator or similar website. And remember that tax exempt and tax deductible are not the same.
    • Tax Exempt The charity or organization does not have to report/file its financial information with the IRS or pay taxes, although it may be a good and legitimate cause (e.g., the Salvation Army). To determine if a group has tax-exempt status, go to the Internal Revenue Services website.
    • Tax Deductible The charity is considered a public charity and is required to report its financial information to the IRS, divulging its income and how it spends its funds. You can deduct what you contribute to them on your federal income tax returns. There are over 20 categories of tax-exempt organizations, but only a few also also qualify as tax deductible.

Tips for Seniors

All too frequently the elderly are the victims of charitable fraud. The following just summarizes Charity Navigator's tips for seniors. Click on Tips for Older Donors to read the whole article to protect a friend or family member, yourself, or your nest egg.

  • Don't succumb to pressure tactics.
  • Verify their claims that you've contributed in the past.
  • Don't feel compelled to give because you received a gift.
  • Be careful of imposters.
  • Hang up the phone.
  • Make sure that your donation is tax-deductible.
  • Research the charity before you give.
  • Send your donation directly to the charity.
  • Tell the charity not to share your personal information.

For additional useful information at Charity Navigator, click on:

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