By Ryan Velez
The holiday season is all about giving, and while we may first think of gifts to our loved ones when it comes to this fact, let’s not forget about charitable causes. Many take advantage of the holiday season to do just that, with it being the most popular time to donate out of the year. However, while people from all walks of life take the time to give back to their communities as well as make donations to important causes across the world, the holiday season also brings out con artists and scammers. Black Enterprise recently posted an article with essential tips to make sure that you don’t find yourself cheated by these unscrupulous individuals and organizations.
The first thing to do is more of a stance to take. Don’t treat a charitable donation as throwing your money away, treat it as any other investment. If you were to invest in a mutual fund, you would do the research and learn about the philosophy of the fund. Use the same mindset when approaching a charity. Be certain that you have the true name and contact information for the charity before giving. Websites like the IRS’s website, as well as www.give.org and www.CharityWatch.org offer lists of legitimate charities and nonprofits.
Another thing to do is to try and avoid those that appeal hard to your emotions. Even legitimate fundraisers will try to use tools like shame, gratitude, and even guilt to get you to donate. Don’t let these be the factors that guide your donation. Instead, always try and do the research to make sure that you know that the charity is aligning with your values. As a rule of thumb, if you are going to donate on the spot, only do it to charities you are familiar with it and causes you are passionate about. After all, you can’t donate to every cause. Don’t feel like saying no means that you don’t care. You have a right to choose how you want to express your support.
The last thing to know as a rule of thumb is to avoid cash donations, favoring a check or credit card. This may mean passing by that person on the street, but it’s important to choose this method to have a record of your gift. The benefits are twofold here: not only do you need a record to claim it as a charitable donation on taxes, but if you find that you were tricked down the line, you will need it as well. Along with this, taking the time to fill out a check or get your card gives you a little more defense against making an emotional decision rather than a logical one. Even after you give, you can cancel a payment with your bank or card holder if needed. Remember, it’s not that you have to give less this holiday season, just make some smart decisions.