With the holiday season fast approaching, SBA Goodwill Industries Inc. would like to provide some tips on charitable giving to ensure donations benefit the people who need them most.
First, give to charities you know and trust. Fraudulent charities often modify the names of established groups. Avoid giving to organizations that request your credit card number on the telephone or a cash payment.
Before donating an item, ask yourself if you'd give it to a relative or friend. If you wouldn't give it as a gift, chances are it will not "move" in a store. Federal law stipulates that clothing and household goods must be in "good used condition or better" for tax deductions.
Leave donations at sites with attendants on duty. Donations dropped off beyond business hours encourage theft or damage.
Ascertain if your donation will benefit local residents. Donors typically like to see their donations remain local.
Similarly, find out how much of the money generated by donations actually goes to the charity. For instance, at Goodwill, more than 88 percent of revenues goes directly into employment and training programs for people with disabling or disadvantaging conditions.
Ask for an official receipt, and be sure it confirms your donation and the date it was made. You will need such information if claiming a federal-tax deduction. Normally, donors determine the fair market value of something contributed.
If in doubt, call the charity or the organization the charity claims to support. Legitimate enterprises will readily respond to your inquiry.
Wise giving is the surest way to assist people who need help, and that's what giving is all about.
Mark Hiemstra, chief operating officer
SBA Goodwill Industries