Americans are among the most charitable people in the world. They are generous in supporting causes that they believe will improve life for the underprivileged, whether this be humans or animals.
And while there are many reasons why we should donate more money to charity and should increase the amount we contribute, giving something is the first step. With the number of U.S. charities growing each year, how do you know which ones to donate to? Consider the following criteria when choosing your charity.
A 501(c)(3) Internal Revenue Code tax designation means that an organization is operated for exempt purposes, nor can it participate in political campaigns. Typically, these organizations are dedicated to serving an underrepresented group in society or addressing a specific need, like hunger. This government tax designation helps to ensure the organization is not for profit and legitimately committed to charitable work.
Devastating Acts of Nature
Earthquakes, wildfires, volcanoes, tornadoes, and hurricanes often attract the pity and donations of concerned citizens both near and far. Sometimes a special fund will be set up at a local bank or supermarket to help victims of weather-ravaged communities or those damaged by unexpected events. Floods and hailstorms, along with other savage weather events, often attract sympathetic donors who want to alleviate the suffering caused by these catastrophic conditions.
For people of faith, donating to a place of worship or a faith-based ministry is often a priority donation. These donations often get used for typical fees of churches/synagogues/etc., or special programs to help those in need.
Supporting the local community can take many forms, including fundraisers for a family whose home is destroyed by fire or an individual, perhaps well-known and beloved, tragic cancer victim. Donations to support firefighters and police officers are sometimes requested. Contributing to programs like a new school or homeless shelter, or a national program like Habitat for Humanity and United Way, can be orchestrated through paid donations or volunteer support.
Indiegogo and Gofundme are two of many online donation sites where donors can browse hundreds of projects with budgets of all sizes. Videos and interviews posted at project sites, along with offers of thank-you gifts, encourage interested viewers to contribute to a worthwhile cause, which can range from a teenager’s amazing experiment that could improve everyday life to an aspiring musician or a talented artist. Whatever your interest, you will probably find numerous projects to learn about and consider funding.
In addition, there are plenty of other ways to donate to worthy causes. Schools usually schedule fundraisers to help support extracurricular activities. Community organizations for kids like the Girl Scouts sell cookies to earn money for their group activities. Whatever your interest or concern regarding social issues, there are many ways to donate. Don’t be taken in by scams, however. Check out the organization or fundraising initiative you would like to donate to by researching it online or consulting the Better Business Bureau. Find out if you will get a tax-deductible donation receipt. Make your donation count by giving to issues that are meaningful to you.