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Making the Most of Your Charitable Contributions

It’s that time of year – time to see family for the holidays, make new resolutions, and consider making a contribution to your favorite nonprofit organizations.  You may have received requests from multiple organizations that all seem very worthwhile.  How do you choose?  Or, maybe you want to make a donation, but don’t have a specific organization in mind.  What are your options?

If you are trying to decide between multiple organizations, a great location for information is GuideStar.org.  Here, you can review an organization’s financials, learn more about its mission, programs, and staff, and view tax forms from prior years.  GuideStar posts the tax forms, which provide a wealth of invaluable information, but it is up to each organization to list much of its other data.  Therefore, this information can be hit or miss.  Regardless, this is still my favorite site to visit to learn about any nonprofit’s finances.

CharityNavigator.org is another place to learn more about the financial health of larger nonprofits.  On this site, you can determine an organization’s efficiency with funds, view recent income statements, and compare the organization’s financial performance with other, similar charities.  While smaller organizations are not listed, Charity Navigator is a nice resource to use when considering which organization will do the most good with your dollars.

If you have a general cause that’s close to your heart, but aren’t sure which organizations serve that purpose, Idealist.org and VolunteerMatch.org both offer databases searchable by category and location to help you find the right organization for your donation.  Neither site is comprehensive, nor do they focus on financials, but they provide information entered directly from each nonprofit and can help you generate a list of organizations to further research.

In our current economic environment, charitable organizations and donors alike are facing increasing financial challenges.  Many nonprofits must make less money stretch further than ever and many donors have less money to give.  If you plan to make a charitable contribution this year, it is more important than ever to do so wisely.

Posted in Blog, Estate Planning.