MINNEAPOLIS - The holidays may be the season for giving, but we actually do it in all sorts of ways throughout the year.
At the start of the school year parents fill buses with school supplies, in the middle of winter school principals sleep outside, blood donations, food donations, even hair donations, but likely the king of all donations is cash. These days even ATM's and store checkouts ask if you would like to add a donation to your transaction, but should you?
"You need to really step back and take a look at what you're doing and it's always great to double check," said Better Business Bureau's Dan Hendrickson. "You know contact the charity directly."
A simple way to check out a charity is by searching online at www.give.org. The BBB website will let you know if the charity meets its standards or not.
Hendrickson said you should plan ahead before you donate and make sure you know exactly where your money goes and who it goes to. For example, if a charity claims 100% of your donation goes to the recipient, more often than not it doesn't.
"Our wise giving standards say at least 65% of the funds a charity receives should go to the intended recipients," explained Hendrickson, "Meaning up to 35 percent can be overhead costs and so forth."
Along those same lines, "tax exempt" doesn't necessarily mean "tax deductible."
Tax exempt simply means the organization does not pay taxes.
Tax deductible means the donor can deduct their contribution from their taxes.
Here are some other tips to consider before giving:
- Whether it's a door to door solicitor or a phone call make sure you get the charity's full name, ask if the charity is licensed, and do not give money on the spot.
- Texting has made giving easier, but it's also easier to make a mistake. Be sure to verify the charity and the number you text to ensure you're sending it to the right place.
- Keep in mind, except for times of emergency, texted donations usually take two to three months before the money is transferred.
- Don't be fooled by names that closely resemble the name of well-known organizations, because while it's the season of giving, others see it as a time for taking.
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