taxYou’re a generous person, and you may be feeling charitable at the end of the year. You may have already made a donation, but perhaps you didn’t because you weren’t sure where to donate. While it may be a little late for this year, here are a few FAQs about charitable donations to help you decide for next year.

How do I know which charity or non-profit to donate to?
GuideStar suggests first looking at the causes you care about: sick children, animals, etc. and finding which organization’s mission and vision aligns with your values. Then, research the organization through the website, contacting someone at the organization, and trusting your instincts. If you have doubts, don’t contribute.

What if I don’t have a particular passion? Where should I donate?
With so many charities and non-profits competing for donation dollars, choosing which one can be daunting. Many sites like charity navigator allow people to look up specific organizations to see how each has been rated. The ratings are easy to read and are broken down by financials, accountability, and comparison to similar organizations.

What’s the difference between a charity and a non-profit?
While all charities are non-profit, not all non-profits are charities. Charities raise funds for social causes and the money received from donation goes only for that purpose. Staff are volunteers. Non-profits, on the other hand, are different. According to the IRS, they are treated like a business entity except they are not run for profit except any profit goes for administrative costs and salaries.

How can I found out if an organization is legitimate?
The Federal Trade Commission recommends asking for detailed information about the organization’s mission, costs, and how the donation will be used. More reputable charities spend about 75% on programs and services. Legitimate organizations won’t use high pressure tactics like demanding a commitment on the spot. You can always research an organization on the Internal Revenue Service website to see if it is listed as being eligible to receive tax-deductible donations.

Is my donation tax deductible or can I earn tax credits?
The rules are different depending on the status of a particular organization. For specific information, please consult your accountant or certified tax preparer.

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