Giving To Charity Responsibly
All right - crunch time is over. The taxes are done and most of us won't think about them again for another year. But what might still be on the brain for most people is the things which allowed them a certain number of deductions on their taxes. Since they're fresh in the mind as money-savers, we may still be thinking regularly about keeping receipts for the stuff we buy for our home office and remembering that charities can be given to in order to get a reward. In fact, right around tax time is the second busiest time of year for giving to charities, behind only the holiday season when it comes around to everyone's brain as a nice thing to do.
So, you want to give to charity. But how can you give to charity responsibly? After all, you want to get a little something back for what you give, but mostly you really do want to give to a good cause. And you want to make sure that the money that you give to charity is really going where it should. So how do you do that?
Well, first of all, if you have the means to give time instead of money, you're more likely to be doing responsible charity work. In many cases, if you keep records of your time and get confirmation from the agency which you give to, you can still deduct a portion (mileage costs, for example) on your taxes. If you give items or money in addition to your time, these things will be deductible as well, but you'll be able to see the immediate results of your generosity in the work that you're doing on-site. This is the most responsible way of giving to charity and seeing directly that it's being done responsibly.
But perhaps you don't really have the time to give and you just want to donate items or money to a good cause. Start with local projects that you are familiar with. If there is a small non-profit in your area that you see regularly because of your work or other activities, find out about giving to them. These organizations regularly make responsible use of the donations given to them. Before donating, you can call these organizations and find out what they really need at the current time in order to make sure that your giving is put to good use.
If you don't have a particular place in mind for your donation and want to make as little effort as possible while trying to ensure that you're giving responsibly to charity; head over to CharityWatch.org. This organization exists in order to identify charities which use their money wisely. To make the list of "high grade" charities, the group must put at least ¾ of donated money back into the program and simultaneously must spend less than $25 for every $100 raised. CharityWatch.org divides its listings into categories so that you can choose a cause which is of interest to you and research the charities which are most responsible with the donations that you may give.
Then, when it comes around to tax time again (and we all know that even though it just ended, it'll be back in a jiffy!), you'll be able to rest comfortably knowing that you're getting something back for having given responsibly to a good cause!
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