Your contribution can help make a big difference, but choose wisely. / ULTRA.F / Getty Images
Giving to charities is a gift that gives back, with a chance to take a tax write-off next spring for donations made by Dec. 31. How do you decide which to support?
Get guidance. If you have a charity in mind, it should be able to tell you how your donation will be used. Charitynavigator.org ranks non-profits by popularity, financial security and effectiveness. Independent evaluator GiveWell reviews charities that it believes have the best results per dollar donated.
Know its status. Tax exempt, or 501(c)(4), isn’t the same as tax deductible, or 501(c)(3). If an organization lobbies the government, it may be excluded from tax-deductible status (the group doesn’t have to pay taxes, but you can’t claim a deduction).
Keep a record. For donations less than $250, a record of your check will suffice. For greater amounts than $250, you will need a written receipt from the organization when tax time rolls around.