Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Lorraine Roe: The Six W's Of Charitable Giving This Season: "It all started in my journalism training about writing a complete news story. We were taught to ask the five 'w's' which are: who, what, when, where and why. When you're about to give, make sure you answer the who first. Are they a tax-deductible organization? Being tax deductible has two advantages. The first is that, of course, you can deduct it on your income tax. The second is that the organization has their accounting on file in a public place. The document is the IRS Form 990. Checking this form can provide some delicious details when you're a reporter or a civilian giver. That's where you can often find out that the non-profit spent 85% on administration, with only 15% of their money going to actual people who are supposedly helped by the cause. Of course there are countless charities devoted to helping people that actually do that. But it's important to check their non-profit's 990, just to make sure. Many non-profits post their Form 990 on their websites. But, if they don't, you can often find those forms in the offices of the State Attorney General in many states across the country. And if you don't have the time you can visit a charity watchdog website, that does a lot of the checking for you."