Charitable Giving Checklist

As the end of the year comes to a close, odds are good that your mailbox is filled with daily letters from charitable organizations fighting for your tax-deductible donations. In fact, according to a 2015 report from the Giving USA Foundation, nearly 18% of all giving occurred in the year’s final month. With so many opportunities to give and the clock inching toward a new year, how can you know who best deserves your charity? Ask these five questions to make sure you’re comfortable and confident about your year-end donations.

What’s important to me?
Common categories for charities include animal welfare, child assistance, education, human and civil rights, health and cancer research, veterans, and the environment. While you likely desire to support numerous causes, you should prioritize your preferences for which categories you most desire to support.

Where do I want my donation to go?
Whether you wish to support an international cause, provide disaster relief for an event that made national news, or make an impact locally in your neighborhood, your dollars can be used to help others be the hands and feet of Jesus on Earth.

Can I trust an organization?
Before giving, check with a charity watchdog. “The three big ones are CharityWatch, Charity Navigator, and BBB Wise Giving Alliance,” wrote Anthony Giorgiani in a 2016 article for Consumer Reports. “Collectively, these groups evaluate thousands of nonprofit organizations based on how they collect and spend their money, how transparent they are to the public, and how well they’re governed.”

How will my money be used?
Take some time to sniff-out the money trail. For example, to meet accreditation standards, “the BBB Wise Giving Alliance requires charities to spend at least 65% of their total expenses on their charitable missions and no more than 35% of their contributions on fundraising activities.”

Does it feel right?
Sometimes you just need to trust your gut. As Suzanne Coffman of the nonprofit analysis company GuideStar recommends, “If you still have doubts about a charity, don't contribute to it. Instead, find another nonprofit that does the same kind of work and with which you feel comfortable. Then make your donation.”

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