Maximizing Your Charitable Giving

In this economy, we are seeing a lot of people still either unemployed, or under-employed.  The effects trickle down to many sectors, including churches and other charities.  You may notice more phone calls, television ads, and mail coming from charities soliciting donations.

Before giving to a new charity, you should do a little investigating to ensure the effectiveness of your gift.  For example, many times charities will hire a firm to do a telephone solicitation.  If you receive a call, ask the solicitor what percentage of the donation will actually go to the charity.  The amount may be no more than 5% or 10% of what they raise.  Consider sending a gift directly to the charity, so that they can get 100% of the benefit.

Another item to be aware of when getting solicitations is to ask whether the contribution is deductible, if you are interested in that tax benefit.  Some causes are not listed as charities, but you may want to support them anyway.  If you want to make sure, you can visit the IRS website, www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits, and click on the “Search for Charities” topic on the left side of the page.  There, you can insert the name of the charity, click “search” and receive a list of charities by that name.  Fill in as much information as you know to narrow the search.  Since there are a lot of scammers out there, it may be worth the time to search any charity you plan to give to, regardless of your desire to deduct the gift.

One thing to keep in mind, however, before you decide to give to any of these organizations, is to consider whether the Southern Baptist Convention has a ministry that mirrors the charitable work that you are interested in supporting.  For example, many are interested in giving to organizations that provide wells and clean water to undeveloped countries.  The SBC has an organization that does the same thing.  The only difference is that 100% of the funds you give will go directly to the effort, since your Cooperative Program dollars already provide the infrastructure to support the administration of the project.  Be smart in your giving!

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