Many people around the world donate either their time or money…sometimes even both if the charity organization is lucky. So why do you think this is? Maybe people have too much time on their hands or just want to do something different. Maybe people are filthy rich and just give their money for the heck of it (I don’t fall under that one!). Maybe it’s the “feel good” effect that people are after. Rest assure that no matter the reason to give, they are all good! Nothing should stop us from giving our time or/and money to important charities and causes! Donating to charity helps those in need, it also has important tax benefits for you.
However, did you know that one of the fastest growing trends in “organized con artists” is charity donations and non-profit. Their activity is being able to register a non-profit charity organization (which is very easy to get by the way) and start promoting. They will throw a few fundraisers, increase PR, start word-of-month, etc… and then at the end of the year, donate a penny to the dollar. This means that for every dollar donated to the charity organization, only 1 penny ($0.01) goes to an actual cause. The remainder 99 cents is kept for their pockets! Think of it, the non-profit organization have access to the $250%2B billion (yes BILLIONS!) raised for charities every year (USA stats only). With over 1 million registered charity and non-profit organizations in North America, it is extremely important to do our home work before choosing the right one.
Here are my 10 things you should know before donation:
1. The most important one: Research your charity! Find out who the owner, president, CEO, etc… are. Find out how much they are making. Find out how much of your dollar goes towards their cause. One way to do this is to search on the web. The one site I found to be very useful is charitynavigator.org. They have all this info and more at your fingertips.
2. Ask for physical information. Get to know your chosen charity before giving money. Email them and request their goals, vision, long term plan, etc…in a brochure type of document. Remember, it is your money that you are giving and if they don’t provide you with this information, then they are hiding something.
3. Call the charity directly. Giving them a call gives you a sense of the type of service they provide. It will also give you a good indication on how versed they are in their own cause. Prepare some good questions ahead of the call and put them on the spot.
4. Call the causes. Calling the supported cause(s) (i.e. children hospital, homeless shelters, etc…) to get confirmation about your charity will assure you that this is legitimate.
5. Feel the name. Everything is in a name. If you are looking to donate to Uniteway…think again! You probably wanted Unitedway! Making sure that you have the right organization is crucial. Cons are good at imitating!
6. Feel the pressure. Never feel pressured into a donation! If you get a call asking for funds, ask for all the details. Make sure they explain everything. Ask for a call back number. Ask how the funds will be used. Ask for their website and say that you will donate online. If they can’t provide you with any of those details or are forceful about donating right now over the phone, the chances are it’s a con. Hang up and if you feel you still want to donate, complete steps above.
7. Watch for prizes. If it’s too good to be true it usually is! If anyone tries to sell you on outrages prizes and giveaway for your donated money, before buying, complete steps above (especially if it’s time limited like “you need to donate in the next 5 minutes to get this giveaway”).
8. Door-to-Door. Again, watch the pressure tactics. Many “cons” which has arose with door to door are chocolates for example. Anyone can go buy bulk chocolate at $0.50 each and sell them door-to-door at $5.00 each for charity. If you sell 100 chocolate bars a day…that’s good revenue! But no charity will benefit! So again, are they Unitedway or Uniteway?
9. Your taxes. Watch out for what the charity provide as tax benefits for you…especially if you give a large amount. Tax exempt means the organization doesn’t have to pay taxes. Tax deductible means you can deduct your contribution on your federal tax return. So an organization that has “tax exempt” doesn’t mean you will be able to declare this deduction on your taxes. Be sure to ask for a receipt that clearly indicates “Tax Deductible”.
10. Repeat the cycle! If you have numerous charities that you currently or would like to start contributing to, make sure you follow these 10 things for each one of them. Do not skip one…it might cost you!
Please keep in mind that donating your time is just as important! So in order to validate the organization you want to volunteer to, follow those same steps. A waste of time is a waste of money!
There is also many other form of research you can look into such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB), local “watch dog’ organization, and let’s not forget the web! Just make sure that when you perform your search to include your location (city, town) in the search…this narrows it down.
Thank you for reading my article, it was a pleasure writing it for you!
If you would like to know more about IG (important giver) and VIG (very important giver)membership, please visit my web site or blog below:
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