organization does not pay taxes. “Tax deductible” means the donor can deduct contributions to that group on his or her federal income tax return.
Make sure a charity is licensed or registered by state authorities (check with your local Office of Community Affairs). Bear in mind that registration in and of itself does not imply that the state or local government endorses the charity.
Also, don’t get taken in by fraudulent e-mails or chain letters circulating on the Internet that imply money will be donated to a worthy cause for every new person to whom the letter is forwarded.
For charities to which you plan to give regular or substantial gifts, request a copy of their annual report, a list of board members and the latest financial statements. This information should give you a clear idea of what kinds of programs the charity operates, how these programs are carried out, who governs the charity and how much of your dollar is spent on programs, fund-raising and administrative costs.
It’s important that you plan your giving. Be sure to factor your regular contributions into your monthly financial budget. Whether you are giving of your time or your money, give from the heart. Not only will you feel good, but you will do a lot of good for your community. be
A CHECKLIST FOR GIVERS
Know your charity. Here are some things to look for when evaluating a charity or nonprofit organization. Once the group “checks” out, you are ready to give freely.
- Is the exact name of the organization clear and recognizable? (Some groups have names that sound similar to those of well-known charities. Be clear about which group is which.)
- What is the purpose of the organization (e.g., finding a cure for a disease)?
- Is the organization a for-profit, nonprofit or professional association?
- How does the group achieve its goals or provide service?
- What percentage of the group’s funding comes from individuals, corporations and foundations? The Foundation Center (www.fdncenter.org/) is a resource on grant-seeking and funding procedures.
- How much of your dollar is used for charitable purposes? (It should be at least 60 cents.)
- Is information made available voluntarily and in a timely manner?
- Does the organization have a recent annual report and IRS Form 990?
- Does the organization have a 501(c)(3) legal status, to which contributions are tax-deductible (www.irs.ustreas .gov/prod/bus_info/eo/)?
- Is the charity or organization registered with the proper state or local government office?