1. How can I determine if a charity is legitimate?
First, check to see if the charity is on the IRS list of organizations eligible to receive tax-deductable donations: http://www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits/Exempt-Organizations-Select-Check
Second, check to consumer information sites, such assuch as Guidestar, which monitor and disseminate information about public charities. Humanity Healing International is a Guidestar Exchange Member which is bestowed only to organizations that meet the highest criteria for transparency.
Ultimately, the donor is the best judge of the legitimacy of a particular charity. Discernment should always be applied.
2. Does “501(c)(3)” mean a charity is legitimate?
“501(c)(3)” refers to the federal tax code, and is a designation given to certain organizations exempted from paying federal income tax. This is a tax designation only, and is only one factor in determining the legitimacy of a particular charity. Organizations exempted from federal taxation as “501(c)(3)” entities are required by federal law to provide certain financial information upon request. Humanity Healing International is happy to provide documentation upon request.
3. What is the benefit to me of the charity being a “501(c)(3)”?
The benefit to donors of this designation is that, in most cases, a donor may deduct part or all of a contribution from his/her federal income taxes. We advise those seeking clarification or further information regarding the tax deductibility of donations to consult the Internal Revenue Service site.
4. Do I have to get a receipt for my donation?
No, but we strongly encourage every donor to save the written receipt documenting the date, the recipient organization, and the amount donated for every donation. This information will be useful if questions arise later, and a receipt record is necessary if you plan to later deduct the donation from your taxes.
The IRS requires a receipt from the charity for donations of $250 or more if you are planning to deduct them on your taxes. For more information on deducting charitable donations, read Eight Tips for Deducting Charitable Contributions by the IRS. Also, you can refer to the IRS Form 526.
5. Can a donor always deduct what they give as a donation?
Not always. The tax deductibility of a particular donation depends upon several factors, including whether the organization receiving the donation possesses a particular tax exempt status, whether the donor receives any service or property of value as a result of the donation, and other factors. Legitimate charities can and will provide explicit information concerning the tax deductibility of donations to their organization upon request.
6. Can I put a charity in my will?
A person may designate a charity as a beneficiary in their will, and many legitimate charities encourage donors to consider this method of planned giving. Bear in mind, a will is a binding legal document with far-reaching consequences. We encourage any person considering designating a charitable organization as a beneficiary in a will to thoroughly discuss options and possible consequences with a qualified attorney or financial planner before making a promise or commitment to the soliciting charity. Legitimate charities will not discourage, and probably will encourage, potential donors to consider their options and seek professional legal advice prior to including the charity as a beneficiary in a will.
7. Can my office do a payroll deduction and give the money to the charity?
Some employers, but not all, have mechanisms or programs to permit employees to donate to charities through payroll deduction. We advise you to check with your employer for further information about their programs and any relevant requirements and restrictions.
8. Can I give stocks or property to a charity, and if so, how do I determine the value of the property?
Many charities accept stocks or other property as donations. Stocks, bonds, and other property donations (like cars, beds, or clothing) present issues of “valuation” – meaning how much the property donated is actually worth. If you plan to deduct the value of a donation of stock or other property from your taxes, we strongly advise you to determine the actual fair market value of your property at the time you make the donation. It is the taxpayer’s responsibility – not the charity’s – to determine and properly report the value of a donation. For further information on this topic, we encourage you to visit the Internal Revenue Service site.
9. Can I raise money for a charity?
There are many ways to help raise money for a charity through social media sites. For example, Facebook works with Causes.com to provide a safe and transparent way for an individual or group to help the charity of their choice. This is a wonderful way to share your passion with your friends and maximize your impact.
For other venues of raising money for a charity, you must first get the charity’s permission. Soliciting for a charity without their prior permission may violate a state’s solicitation laws.
10. Can I get a copy of a charity’s tax return?
If the organization is a “501(c)(3)” entity, the entity must provide certain tax filing information to the public upon request. Consumer information sites, such as Guidestar, also provide federal tax filing information for specific organizations.
11. How do I know how my donation will be used by the charity?
Unless the project is specified as part of the donation project, Humanity Healing International reserves the right to apply the donation as needed. If the project is specified, the donation will go to that project’s fund.
12. Will my money be used on the project I am interested in, or will the money be used for other things?
Nearly all charities, like any business entity, encounter overhead costs. Some charities legitimately possess higher overhead cost burdens than others. However, legitimate charities strive to put as much donor money as possible into charitable programs or purposes.
Humanity Healing International is fortunate. Our overhead costs are covered by our two primary corporate sponsors: OMTimes Media and Humanity Healing Network. This means that 100% of the donation from you that we receive will be used on projects. Please note that the processing of the donation through Paypal (3%) or Network for Good (3%) incurs a fee that is deducted from the donation.