Donating to Charity

If you are interested in donating to charity, or already donate, you will want to know where your donation is going. Donations can help to provide disaster relief efforts, medical research, food and shelter, environmental protection and much more. Keep reading to find out more about what you should know about donating to charity.

Charity Checklist

It is very important to do your research before you give your hard-earned donation to a charity. Not all charities operate the same way, and you will want to make sure that your donation is working for the people who need it, rather than padding the pockets of organizers. A legitimate charity will be transparent and will provide lots of information about their fundraising and efforts. They will also let you know where your donation is going and how it is being used. You should also be aware that there are many scams that will pose as a charity to get donations. These scams may mirror real charitable practices, but if something doesn’t seem right, don’t donate. You can do your research on the charity in question to determine whether it is a legitimate charity that you feel comfortable donating to. If the charity appears to be a scam, you should report it to the Better Business Bureau.


To help ensure that your charitable donation ends up helping those who truly need it, or goes toward the fundraising efforts that you want, you will have to do your research. A few of the main ways that you can research a charitable organization include:

  • Getting details about the charity including contact information
    • This is especially helpful for door-to-door solicitors, telemarketing calls and fundraising emails
  • Online investigating- include words like “scam” and “fraud” to find out more about the charity’s reputation
  • Contact the National Association of State Charity Officials to ensure that the charity is registered
  • Visit Charity Watch, GuideStar, Better business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, and more to find out if the charity is honest and trustworthy

A few of organizations will provide valuable information regarding the operations of well-known charities including:

  • The Internal Revenue Service
    • Provides information about tax tips
    • Lists an exempt organization database to determine if your donations could be deducted on federal taxes
  • Better Business Bureau
    • Provides a comprehensive list about large charities including allocation of funds, fundraising activities, and more
  • Attorney General/ Customer Protection Office
    • Check with your state about the charity because they oversee the licensing of charitable organizations
    • Can provide a record of complaints that have been filed against charities

Charity Types

There are many different charities that need public support and donations to make a difference. In the United States, a charity is operated to beneficial to the public’s welfare and interests. The main charity types recognized in the United States are public charities and private foundations.

The type of charity that you choose to donate to is completely personal. It can be overwhelming to determine what type of charitable organization you would like to support because there are so many different efforts and missions. The most common charities will be found in one of these charity subgroups:

  • Education Charities
  • Environmental Charities
  • International NGOs
  • Health Charities
  • Animal Charities
  • Arts and Culture Charities

Tax Deductions

Some charitable donations can be deducted from your taxes. You can determine if your donations can be deducted as defined in section 170(c) of the Internal Revenue Code. It is important that you are aware of what can be deducted based on requirements and regulations. The donor can deduct contributions that they make to a charitable organization, unless they use their donation in a way to benefit or influence shareholders, political campaigns and more. You can donate property instead of cash to a qualified organization, which may allow you to deduct the fair market value of the donated item. There are limitations to contributions to charitable deductions and it is important that you know how to best utilize your donations for tax deduction purposes.

Ways to Give

There are many ways that you can donate to a charity and make a difference. You may want to give a few different ways to various charities, depending on the nature of the cause, your resources, your schedule, your financial situation, and your availability.

  • Money
    • You can choose to donate money- whether it be a one-time, monthly or annual donation. By researching the cause and charity that you want to donate to, you can ensure that most of the money you donate gets to where it needs to make a difference. Make sure to keep a record of each of your donations- including change donations- because it can add up quickly. Create a budget that allows you to have so much to donate per month or year, so that you do not feel pressure to donate every time someone asks. You should also keep a financial receipt of your donations so that you will have them available for review and tax season.
  • Property
    • You can donate property that you own to help make a difference in another’s life as well. Many charities will accept non-cash donations including clothing, food and household items that are in good condition. These donations may be sold to raise money for the charity, or may be given out to those who need them. You can also donate larger household items including furniture, electronics, dishware and more, which you may be eligible for a tax credit for. You can also donate vehicles, which may be auctioned off to raise money or can be used by the charity. Other common items that are donated to charity include art, real estate and jewelry.
  • Services
    • You do not only have to donate money or belongings when it comes to charity. You can also donate your time, services and talents to help bring fundraising efforts to life. You can choose to help canvas for donations, help with fundraisers, and help an organization where you can. This type of donation can not only make a large difference for many people, but can make you feel good too.

Donating to charity can help you make a difference. It can help you see positive change in the causes that you support. By doing your research on charities, tax deductible donations, and how to effectively donate, you will continue to make a great difference.