Monday, December 14, 2015

How to Donate to Charities like an Expert

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When it comes to donating to charities, there are a few smart tips to practice in order to ensure everything goes smoothly with your charitable donations. While it might seem like donating is a fairly straight forward and simple process, for businesses and those who donate frequently or intend to donate frequently, there are some key things to keep in mind to guarantee your donations are on the up-and-up.

Stay up-to-Date on Charitable Organizations
When donating, be proactive about researching recent news about your charitable organizations. Many people take time to find the right charities before donating, but they often forget to check up on their charities annually or bi-annually to ensure they are in fact doing what they claim to do. Many charities do not always keep donors informed about changes that have happened within the charity. While these changes might be insignificant, there could be staffing or ethical changes that no longer align with your principles. Staying informed can give you peace of mind that your money is being used for good.

Donate Goods and Services
Many people think of donating in terms of money. While most charities will not refuse money, there are other ways you can donate. Some prefer to donate their time, volunteering at different organizations and charitable events, while others like to donate goods or services. When it comes to making a charitable contribution, no act or amount is too small.
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For instance, if you are considering a boat donation, look into a charitable boat auction. These organizations take care of your boat for you, auction it off, and donate the proceeds to charity. Plus, this also acts as a charitable tax write-off, which can be fiscally beneficial to both businesses and people alike.

Charity Names
Another thing to keep in mind is the name of the charitable institutions you are interested donating to. Many charitable foundations have extremely similar names, which can be confusing for donors who are uninformed. Before donating to a new charity, research the name of the charity to verify whether or not this is the correct charity. Charities with similar names often have dissimilar values, thus it is important to be informed and know who you are donating to.

Beware of Scams
Unfortunately, there are many charitable scams that prey on unsuspecting humanitarians. Before making a charitable contribution, take the time to verify that they have a 501(c) (3) status, meaning that they are tax-exempt charities.

How Much Does Your Charity Spend on Administration?
Some charities spend an awful lot on administration costs. While many charities need to spend money on costs to keep the charity running, including paying employees and other office costs, some charities spend nearly 2/3 of donations on administration. In many cases, donors are not aware of where there money is going, or how it is being spent, assuming the money is going directly to the cause itself. If it is important to you to know how your money is being used, look into donating to charities that have transparent practices.

On the other hand, it is important to keep in mind that certain organizations need to spend quite a bit of money on administration, thus it is also important to look at the organizations overall performance. Keep in mind that there is a balance, and many charities do balance it well.

Financial Records
If possible, get a copy of a charitys financial records, as the financial stability of a charity is a key indicator to a charitys overall success. Expert donors are aware that there will be financial ups-and-downs, as there is with any business or organization, but healthy charities are not consistently in the red. If a charity is struggling to make ends meet, it is more than likely that any donated money is being used to keep the charity itself afloat and not to the cause itself.

Keep Records
Finally, smart donors keep records of their donations. Because donations are a tax-deduction, it is important to keep charitable receipts and records for tax purposes. Though you are making a donation, you are also investing in an organization, thus it is wise to keep all financial records in the event you could be audited.

These practices can help you stay on top of your charitable donations, making sure your contributions are being used for the right purposes.