Making the Most of your Charitable Donations

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Making your donation countIn a recent post, we described how to take advantage of a recently resurrected tax break for charitable contributions if you are 70 ½ and how best to research a charity so you know your money will be well-spent. In this post, we’re going to talk about ways to maximize your charitable giving (even if you’re younger than 70).

Focus your dollars

If you have a limited amount to give, experts say that it’s best to concentrate your giving on the charity that is most important to you. Not only does this make the decision-making process easier for you, it also gives you an easy out when other groups approach you for your dollars. Focusing your dollars means your cash will have a bigger impact.

Consider donating more than cash

Donating objects such as jewelry, automobiles, or the use of a second home can have just as big an impact as sending a check because those objects can be auctioned off for more money. Also, non profits nearly always need volunteers and there are many roles within a charitable organization to fill. You can ask your favorite charity what they might need in the way of time or other, and you can find opportunities at OnlineVolunteering.org.

Give while you shop

If you shop online, you can use a free portal called iGive.com to send a percentage of your shopping dollars to a favorite charity – without changing the price tag of the items you buy. As an example, a $50 purchase with Famous Footwear generates $2.60 for the non profit of your choice. Register with iGive.com and you get coupons and free shipping deals as well.

Avoid these losses and scams

Donations are diminished by 2-3% when you pay with a credit card because of card issuer processing fees. Even fund-raising sites take as much as a 4.75% cut when they process your donation. Pledging through a for-profit telemarketing firm can take as much as half your donation, so it is the most ineffective method of giving.

Look-alike websites are often set up with URLs and names that are very similar to charity organizations. These phishing sites are set up to steal your financial data and are very common right after a disaster, when people are more likely to open their wallets for the victims.

The most effective way and safest way to donate is to issue a check directly to the charity. Their website will have the address where you should send the check, but it can’t hurt to give them a quick call to double-check you have an accurate address just to be sure.

Filed Under: Charitable Donations

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