Tips on Giving Wisely
Before you decide to give to a charity it is important to read the 10 tips outlined below on giving wisely. This way you will be an informed giver which means you can make sure your donation of time, money, etc. achieves the goals for which it was given.
- Budget for giving. Plan your philanthropic activities right into your budget just as you would other financial obligations.
- Be an informed giver. Do not be afraid to ask questions when you are asked to give, including the specific name of the solicitor and his or her relationship to the organization, how much of your gift will be used for overhead, the specific project the money will go toward, and other important information. Give only when you feel comfortable that your dollars will be going to support an organization you know and believe in.
- Keep the right records. For gifts of less than $250, a canceled check is sufficient for IRS requirements. For larger gifts, you will want to get a properly worded receipt from the charitable organization as a confirmation of your tax-deductible contribution.
- Be aware of how much is really tax deductible. If you receive a premium in exchange for your gift (such as a book or a dinner), the amount of your tax deduction is reduced by the fair market value of the premium. You can turn down the incentive item if you wish to claim a deduction for the full amount of your gift. Ask the receiving organization for more details.
- Ask about matching gifts. Many employers match gifts made by their employees or make grants to organizations recommended by employees. Be sure to ask your company how it can help your gift go even further.
- Remember, your gift can be confidential. If you prefer to have your gift remain confidential, you should let the organization know. You can expect the charitable organization to honor your request.
- Consider alternative forms of giving. Do not overlook the benefits to you and your cause received from bequests, charitable gift annuities, gifts in kind, endowments and many other creative forms of giving. Ask your tax advisor or attorney to help you make the best plan for you and your family.
- Volunteer! In addition to financial support, consider giving your time and skills. Not only will you help the organization, but you will also make contacts, hone your skills, and learn more about the charitable cause to which you are committing your time and money.
- Do not forget you have the right to say no. Give generously when you can, but if you are unsure, feel uncomfortable, or if an organization simply falls outside your plan for giving do not be afraid to say no. Also, you could ask for more information and take more time to think before making your decision.
- Be a proactive giver! You do not have to wait to be asked. Plan a giving strategy in advance. Contact the charitable organizations of your choice to discuss how your gifts can be most effectively used and help make a difference in your community.