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Charitable donations: Steps to consider before you give.

'Tis the season for giving. And the time of year when every non-profit is requesting donations. You want to help. But how can you be sure that your donation will go toward a good cause? Below, we share what you need to know to help ensure your charitable dollars are making a meaningful impact.

Find a cause to support.

If you want to support a cause you’re passionate about, but aren’t sure where to begin, start by making a list of things that are important to you. Whether it’s fighting a disease or supporting education in your local community, once you identify your priorities you can search for charitable organizations that match your interests. Websites like Charity Navigator let you search for reputable charities by category.

Do your homework before donating.

Before you donate, find out as much as you can about the organization by doing a little research. This checklist can help you get started.

  • If the charity is new to you, confirm that it’s a nonprofit in good standing. Check its status on charity watchdog resource sites like the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance and Charity Watch. These sites can also confirm an organization’s 501(c)3 tax exempt status, which means your donation may be tax deductible.

  • Review the organization’s mission and goals. Financially healthy organizations should be transparent about who they are, what they do and why your donation is needed.

  • Visit the charity’s website and contact them directly with questions.

  • Find out what percentage of your donation will go to the cause itself versus overhead or other expenses. Confirm how the charity communicates progress toward its goals with donors.

Make your donation go further.

Your goodwill toward a charitable organization may also offer an additional perk for you - a tax deduction. To take advantage of any tax benefits, be sure to keep accurate records of your donations and save your receipts. Check here for IRS guidelines regarding deductions for charitable contributions. Consult a tax adviser for complete details. Another way to increase the impact of your charitable donation is to use a credit card like Charity Charge World Mastercard It’s a cash back rewards credit card that lets you allocate 1% cash back of your everyday purchases to organizations of your choice.

Make sure your payment is secure.

Avoid responding to an email or phone solicitation for donations without verifying the charity’s payment information, and never mail cash or wire money. For security and record keeping, it’s best to pay with a credit card or a check made payable to the organization. Never include your credit card number or other personal financial information in an email or on a non-secure website.

Knowing that your financial support has the power to bring about meaningful change can be very fulfilling. That’s why it’s important to make sure you feel confident about the charity you donate to. By following the steps above before you give, you can relax knowing the people and organizations you’re supporting are making good use of your investment - and that your generosity will have a lasting impact.

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