You might have plans to donate to charities as the year comes to a close. Some people take advantage of the tax deduction, but before you give, do you really know just how that money will be used?
Sandi Ellenberger not only gives money to the Open Door Mission, she also gives her time as a volunteer. “One of the biggest reasons I give here, I can see exactly where my money is going. Volunteer on Monday night, I can see the clothes that have been donated, the warehouse items that people have brought."
It's a good accounting of how donations are used, including money. "Eight-six cents of every dollar goes directly to Open Door Mission programs,” says the mission’s Charity Watts.
Not every charity operates at such a high standard. Before you give, know where your money goes. “You'd want to make sure that the charity that you're making a contribution to spends at least 65 percent of the money that it takes in on the actual cause,” says the Better Business Bureau’s Jim Hegarty.
Causes may be tied to major events like Superstorm Sandy. “We have to remember that many times these scams are being perpetrated from offshore by heartless individuals that are just not connected emotionally to the situation,” says Hegarty. In other words, they want your money for selfish reasons, unlike the Open Door Mission.
"They encourage people to come down here, take tours of the building, see where money has gone,” says Ellenberger.
The Better Business Bureau has done extensive research on charities and how donations are used. Visit bbb.org for more information.
Another excellent tool that can be used to make an informed decision concerning donations to charities is Charity Navigator. It's in its 10th year of operation and the service is free.