Giving to charity can be a rewarding experience. It's also a great way to make a difference in the world while reducing your tax burden. But before you start making donations, it's important to make sure that your contributions are going to the right places.
Here are some of the best ways to give to charity:
Do Your Research
Before making any donation, check out the charity's website and review its financials. Look at how much money they raised last year and how they spent it. You'll also want to check out the Better Business Bureau's ratings and reviews; if there are few or no reports, proceed cautiously. It's also important to know how much overhead each organization has so your money goes straight toward helping those in need rather than paying salaries or administrative costs.
Find Out How Your Donation Will Be Used
Don't just assume that because you're giving money directly to a cause that it will be used effectively. Some organizations use their money on overhead costs, while others put most of it toward helping those in need directly through programs like food banks or medical clinics.
Set Up a Recurring Donation
Donate regularly rather than just once a year or when you have extra cash lying around. This helps many nonprofits plan for their future and allows them to better manage their costs and make strategic investments.
If you want your money to go directly to people who need it most, then donate locally rather than nationally or internationally. You'll be able to see the impact of your donation in person and meet the people who benefit from it. For example, if you want to donate clothes or household items that are still in good condition but not useful for you anymore, give them away at local thrift stores or shelters instead of shipping them off somewhere else around the country or world where they may not be needed as much as they are here at home.
Donate In Someone's Name at Christmas Time
Many people do this by giving gift cards instead of presents during the holidays — but did you know you can also donate money directly? It's easy; just pick an organization that matches your interests and let them know how much money you'd like them to receive.
Donate Cash or Items
This is one of the most common ways to help charities, and it's one of the most effective. Cash donations are easy to track and allow organizations to purchase exactly what they need most. When donating items, make sure they're in good condition and won't need a lot of extra work or re-packaging before they can be used by the charity.
Donate Your Time
Volunteer your time and talents at an organization that you support. Volunteering is an excellent way to get involved with an organization and learn about its mission and goals firsthand. Many organizations provide volunteer opportunities for individuals with all levels of experience, so don't let inexperience stop you from lending a hand!
Donate Goods or Services
If you have an expensive item that you don't need anymore, such as a car or boat, consider donating it to a charity instead of selling it at auction or on Craigslist. You could also donate goods that you no longer need but that someone else could use — such as old clothes or household items — by giving them directly to the organization instead of throwing them away.
Give Stock Shares
If you own stock in publicly traded companies like Apple or Microsoft, consider donating some shares directly to your favorite nonprofit organization instead of selling them for cash and using the money for yourself. This is often easier than trying to sell the shares yourself because most charities will accept any number of shares from any company without paying sales tax or transaction fees on the transfer of ownership from the seller to the buyer.
Chances are when you decide to donate money to a charity, there's a good reason for it. It could be to help feed the hungry or to provide shelter to those less fortunate (or both!). And if you're intending your donation as a gift, it may make sense from a tax perspective too. With tax time just around the corner, this post is relevant now more than ever!