Holiday Deductions: What Charities To Give To
(It just happens that the holidays are at year-end.)
Girls love guys that don’t pinch their pennies. Nothing is going to turn a lady off more than a first date of the McDonald’s drive thru and telling her to order off the value meal because you don’t get paid until next week. Since that is true, conversely the real way to impress a lady is to give your money away like you don’t care about it. This time of the year, it’s a perfect time to think about donating to a charity.
Looking at IRS publication 526, unfortunately you only have two days left to get the tax benefits of donating to a charity this year, but as long as you drop a check in the mail or charge it to your credit card before the New Year, it will still count toward reducing your taxes for 2010. (Another fun fact on publication 526, you can deduct the mileage going to and from volunteer work for qualified organizations, but not the time value of the volunteer work itself.)
I just mentioned “qualified organizations” and to find out if the charity you selected is qualified, you can search here, or download an entire list here. As long as you don’t give more than 20% of your adjusted gross income, you don’t have to worry about charitable contribution limits for your deductions.
I’m sure most of you have ones that mean more to you like the United Way because you love the commercials during football, or the American Cancer Society because of friends or relatives stricken with the disease. Examining your own life is the easiest way to find causes that mean the most to you. But, beyond that, there is also research to be done to find out how the charity uses your money.
One way to look at a charity’s efficiency is to examine the salary of the CEO. This top ten list shows charities where the CEO earns less than $52,000. As the introduction of the list explains, with low payments to the CEO and other administrative functions, more of your donated money goes to helping the beneficiaries of the charity. For example, Green Corps that trains its members for environmental campaigns, spends only 4.7% of its funds on administrative costs but there’s another 10.7% on fundraising costs, leaving 85% to go to its programs.
That number isn’t bad, but when you look at a list of charities with the most consecutive four-star ratings, you see The Children’s Aid Society that has 91% of its funds going to its programs that provide support and opportunities to help the physical and emotional well-being of children and families in New York City.
Even better, Harvesters: The Community Food Network of Kansas City uses 97.5% of its funds toward its programs that include distributing food to soup kitchens and homeless shelters.
Once you start exploring, looking for charities that have a personal interest and are in your area, I’m sure you’ll find ones that need your financial help and do good work. If it’s too late to budget charitable contributions this year for your tax deductions, just keep this essay in mind (and read publication 526 in regards to donations of goods, other possibilities that I don’t mention, and so that you’re not just taking my words for advice) and link to the Charity Navigator so that you’ll be ready for next year. It’s never to late to give.
About Jason McClain Jason is an aspiring novelist, which means there is a lot of time to put off writing and watch baseball or go fly-fishing, hiking and traveling. By "a lot of time", Jason means "procrastination."