Do your homework before donating to charity

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Before you give to a charity, it’s advisable to ask a few important questions when considering which charitable organization to give to, as well as your personal goals or objectives for donating.

  • How do you want your dollars used — different charities can have varying missions, even if they are benefiting the same cause. Think about whether you want your money to go toward programs that meet an immediate need, or efforts that focus on longer-term solutions.
  • Check out the organization’s objectives — a charitable organization’s website should clearly explain their goals, how it plans to meet those goals, as well as providing past results.
  • Find out who’s running the organization — research who’s leading the charity and consider whether their experience and skill sets make them capable of meeting the organization’s goals.
  • How do they stand up to the competition — look into other charities’ work in the same geographic region or philanthropic effort. Smaller organizations are often very effective, but not as widely known within the community. For information on what charities are in existence where, visit the National Center for Charitable Statistics website at www.nccs.urban.org.
  • Ask the experts — the website www.myphilanthropedia.org combines the opinions of independent experts to highlight the most effective charities in various regions. Experts offer advice on different nonprofits based on their impact, as well as assessing the plusses and minuses of various charities.
  • Check out the organization’s bottom line — consider whether the charity you are planning to donate to is financially stable. If the organization receives money from numerous donors and foundations, rather than depending solely on a single funding source, that’s typically a sign of financial solvency. Visit www.charitynavigator.org and look at the charity’s IRS Form 990 to review their finances.
  • Deal only with recognized charities — it is unfortunately common for scam artists to impersonate charities using bogus websites, and through contact via e-mail, telephone, social media, and in-person solicitations. Check out the charity on the IRS website at www.irs.gov, using the Exempt Organizations Select Check search tool. Never give or send cash, always contribute by check or credit card.
Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2016.

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