December 23-- As the year comes to a close, Georgians across the state are opening their wallets and giving to those less fortunate. Georgia can proudly count itself among the most charitable states in the country. But even as we open our hearts to others, Georgians should be careful to ensure their donations are used honestly and effectively.
“The holiday season is a time when we take stock of the things that are most important – friends, family, community – and remember those who are less fortunate,” said Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. “I encourage all Georgians to continue to give charitably to those in need but, at the same time, to make sure they are donating to causes that will put their contributions to good use.”
Before making charitable contributions this year, please keep these tips in mind:
- Research Online – If there is a charitable organization or cause to which you would like to donate, research online beforehand to ensure the charity is right for you. The Better Business Bureau, Charity Navigator, Guidestar, and other websites provide evaluations of different charitable organizations.
- Check For Charity Filings - Before making any donation, be sure to confirm the organization you are supporting is a legitimate 501(c)(3) charity. Ask for the organization’s Employer Identification Number (EIN) and search it on the IRS website, or look for the organization’s 990 tax filings.
- Effectiveness Matters – Take the time to look at an organization’s financial situation. Tools available online, such as those mentioned above, will provide you with information necessary to ascertain how much of your contribution will actually go to those in need versus administrative or other costs.
- Do not share personal financial information over the phone – Do not share your credit card, debit card, or bank account information over the phone. Donate by check or credit card, rather than cash. And send the contribution directly to the organization rather than through a third party. If you donate more than $250, the organization should send you a letter confirming the size of your donation.
- Tax Deductible Donations – If making a tax-deductible donation is important to you, search the database of tax-exempt organizations available on the IRS website. Before making your donation, ensure the charity you have identified is in fact tax deductible. Then, once you have made the donation, be sure to get a receipt for your contribution.
More donation tips can be found here.