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Giving To Charity - How To Make The Best Use Of Your Donation

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    Giving To Charity - How To Make The Best Use Of Your Donation

    You work hard for your money so when you decide to give it to a charity, you want to make sure that the money you donate works to help those in need. There are a number of steps you can take to make sure that your money is going where you want it to go and to make sure you don't accidentally give it to a scam artist preying on your kindness.

    <b>Donate Through Your Company</b>: Often times the best way to get the biggest bang for your buck is to make your donation through your company. Many companies match their employees charitable donations dollar for dollar meaning that by going through your company, you can donate twice as much to your chosen charity than if you gave the donation directly to the charity by yourself.

    <b>Don't Donate Cash</b>: Always make your donation to your chosen organization by check or credit card, not in cash. With cash, there is no way of telling whether your donation ever reached the charity. In addition, donating by check or credit card gives you documentation so that you may be able to take a deduction on your taxes for the donation made.

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    <b>Give To An Established Charity</b>: When you're giving to a charity, especially during times of disaster, you want to donate to one that has an established track record of helping people in the specific area affected. Those charities that are already established in the region will have the contacts and infrastructure to maximize your donation through their knowledge of the area and efficiency that comes with that.

    <b>Avoid Charities Without A Known Track Record</b>: During times of crisis, numerous new charities materialize. Many are well meaning while others are nothing more than scams set up to take your money. The problem is that knowing which is which is usually impossible to tell. By sticking with charities that have established records, you know your money is going to be used for its intended purpose.

    <b>Do A Little Research</b>: There are a number of indep@endant organizations that rate charities on different criteria. You can visit these sites and do research to make sure you are giving to a charity that meets the standards you expect. Some sites where you can do this research are <A HREF="http://www.give.org">Give.org</A>, <A HREF="http://www.charitywatch.org">CharityWatch.org</A>, <A HREF="http://www.charitynavigator.org">CharityNavigator.org</A> and <A HREF="http://www.guidestar.org">GuideStar.org</A>

    <b>Avoid Phone Solicitation Appeals</b>: You want to avoid making any contribution to charities you have never heard of who contact you over the phone. Even if it is a charity with which you're familiar, <b>never divulge your credit card information</b> to them over the phone since there is no way to know if they are who they say they are. If you decide you want to make a donation to the organization, call the charity directly or visit their website to make the donation.

    <b>Avoid Unsolicited Email Appeals</b>: Emails from organizations you have never heard of should be immediately deleted. Even those from organizations you have heard of should not be trusted since duplicating websites and faking email addresses can been done quite easily. Never follow a link given in an email. Instead, put the email in the trash and go directly to the site to make your donation.

    <b>Designate Your Gift</b>: For those worried that there funds won't be used for what they want them used for, you can designate your gift for the specific situation for which you want it to be used. Most charities prefer the donation be made to their general fund so they can decide how to best use it. If you have confidence in the charity, this is the most helpful to the charity. There may be times, however, that you will want your donation to go to help with a specific situation and at these times it is best to designate your gift for that purpose.

    By taking the time to do a bit of research and donate to organizations that meet your standards, you will ensure that your hard earned money is going to help those exactly as you intended it to do.
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