Questions to ask before Donating to a Charity

Before deciding to donate to a charity, there are questions to ask. 

Along with legitimate charities, in recent years there have also been many scams popping up. There are over 60,000 new charities created each year and there are over 1.6 million non profit organizations to choose from. Charities are organized for a variety of causes. With the recent natural disasters around the country, there are some individuals that have set up charities as scams instead of to help the victims. 

One of the questions to ask is how the charity uses the contributions. Some organizations designate most of their contributions to administrative costs. It is recommended that at least 70 percent of a charitable organization’s total expenses should be used for program services.  

Also, ask what the exact name of the charity is. With so many charities, there are several that have names that are similar. Make sure you are donating to the charity you were intending to.

Inquire as to what the organization’s mission is and the programs they support.  Some may be more involved with research and others may be more involved with spreading information about a cause. 

Determine if your funds will stay in your local area to go towards residents of your community. Some charities that have national ties, may send their contributions to the national headquarters and they are distributed across the country. Others, may also have national ties but all donations made stay in the local community.

Ask if your contribution is tax deductible. Contributions to organizations that are recognized as 501(c) 3 organizations by the IRS are tax-deductible and contributions to most other types of organizations are not. If an organization is labeled as “tax exempt” does not necessarily mean that the contribution is tax-deductible. 

All charities welcome monetary donations but some also solicit in-kind donations such as your time or donations of clothing, food, and toys. Before donating items, make sure the items are things the charity needs at this time. Many organizations put out the word in their newsletters and other sources of items they are in need of.

Even though food banks prefer non-perishable items, there are some that are needed more than others. Also, it is important to donate items that are not close to their expiration date. Once it meets the expiration date printed on the package, many food banks cannot use them any longer. Many organizations sponsor food drives or toy drives throughout the year. 

There are questions to as a charity before deciding to make a donation to it.