Budget for giving. Wise giving often entails proper planning. If you’re going to commit to a charity organization, then you need to make room for it in your finances. Include your philanthropic activities in your budget. It’s just better that way; and you don’t get caught off guard.
Be an informed giver. Wise giving isn’t just about writing a check to any organization that asks. It’s about knowing which charitable organization is actually worth giving your money to. So, don’t be afraid to ask questions when you’re asked to give.Look out for things like the specific name of the solicitor and his or her relationship with 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 money will be going to support an organization or cause you know and believe in. Network for Good provides information on more than 1 million charitable organizations from the GuideStar database. So using our database, you can make an informed decision on any organization.
Keep the right records. For gifts of less than $250, a canceled check or credit card statement is sufficient for IRS requirements. For larger gifts, you’ll want to get a properly worded receipt from the charitable organization as a confirmation of your tax—deductible contribution. When you donate through Network for Good, you will receive an e-mail confirmation of your gift. This e-mail meets IRS requirements.
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 donations 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 make an anonymous contribution, you should let the organization know. You can expect the charitable organization to honor your request.
Consider alternative forms of giving. Don’t 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’ll also make contacts, hone your skills, and learn more about the charitable cause to which you’re committing your time and money.
Don’t forget you have the right to say no. Give generously when you can, but if you’re unsure or feel uncomfortable—or if an organization simply falls outside your plan for wise giving—don’t be afraid to say no. Or, ask for more information and take more time to think before making your decision.
Be a proactive giver! You don’t have to wait to be asked. Plan a wise 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.
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