There’s no denying that 2020 has had its fair share of ups and downs. With so much uncertainty, sometimes we forget to slow down, take a moment, and think about the members of our community who have been hit the hardest by this tumultuous year. As we close the year out, it is the perfect time to give back to a cause that is near and dear to your heart. You’re not alone, Giving USA reports a 4.2% increase in charitable donations for the year 2020. If you haven’t found the time in the past to donate, there are some things to be aware of. Unfortunately, there are those out there who would take advantage of the kindness of others. Whether a first-time giver, or a seasoned donor, we have your guide to giving.
Don’t Just Give, Get Passionate – Yes, any little bit helps, but it will mean so much more when you find a cause you are passionate about. A recent study found that donating to a cause you are passionate about can lead to an increase in confidence and a boost in self-esteem. Do the mournful tones of Sarah McLachlan pull on your heart strings with each ASPCA commercial? Do you have a soft spot for children? Maybe you’re worried about the environment? If you have a passion for it, a quick internet search can help you find a local charity that will match your kindness. Charity Navigator is a huge database that can help you start your search. https://www.charitynavigator.org/
Do Your Research – Not all non-profits are created equal. In fact, some aren’t non-profits at all. Before making your donation, do some research. One of the easiest ways you can protect yourself is by simply looking at a non-profit’s website. At the top left corner, in the search bar of your internet browser, is there a small locked padlock icon? If so, that means the connection is secure and this site can be trusted. If the lock is unlocked? This site isn’t secure, don’t give it any of your information. Another way to protect yourself is to check the financials of the non-profit you chose. Most charities will be very transparent with their financials. If you can see that most of the money they receive goes to places other than their advertised cause, they aren’t worth the donation.
Avoid Donating Over the Phone – There are so many ways for you to donate these days that you don’t need to use the phone. Yes, our phones are packed with convenience, but they also open us up to being scammed by those who want our money for less-than-charitable purposes. When you donate online, you can verify the authenticity of the website you’re visiting. When you are speaking to someone over the phone, it is impossible to check their veracity. Even if you are 99.9% sure you’re speaking to the charity you have chosen, donating online allows you to track your donation and thus be more aware of where your money is going.
Choose the Right Method of Payment – The safest way to donate to a non-profit is by credit card or check. While some non-profits do, in fact, hold credit card gift drives, if a non-profit asks you to donate using a gift card, it could be a scam. Also be wary of any organization that asks you to wire them money. Their intentions could be fraudulent. Once you have made your donation, you can track your bank account to make sure you paid for the agreed upon amount or to make sure you were not set up for a recurring donation when you didn’t want to be. If the warm and fuzzy feelings you get when you donate to a non-profit aren’t good enough, most donations are tax deductible. Keep in mind, donations to individuals are not tax deductible. So, of a non-profit is asking you to donate to an individual, maybe reconsider.
More Than Money – Even if you are experiencing financial difficulty, you can still give back to a non-profit. Many non-profits have opportunities for you to donate your time. Whether it be by serving food at a soup kitchen or helping the elderly with their yard work. There are many ways you can help, not just monetarily.