Do's and Don'ts for Holiday Charitable Donations

Avoid scams and find a reputable charity to do the most good with your money.

ByOpinion<br/>by Trent Stamp via via logo
December 04, 2009, 5:40 PM

Dec. 6, 2009&#151; -- This holiday season, even with rising unemployment rates, a dismal dollar and an exploding federal deficit, Americans will do what they've always done: They'll give money to the less fortunate.

In fact, 50 percent of all charitable donations by individuals this year will be made between Thanksgiving Day and New Year's Eve. The reasons for this are pretty simple: This is the time of the year when many of us are reminded how fortunate we still are; this is the time of the year when holiday bonuses are issued, freeing up a few extra dollars in the family budget; and of course, this is the time of year when taxpayers realize they need to make a few charitable gifts to ease their tax burden in April.

No matter the motivation, now is when Americans reach for their checkbooks and do what they can to help those who are struggling. And with dollars being stretched tighter than ever, it is imperative that charitable donors make sure their gifts go not just to any charity, but to an exceptional charity.

After being in this business for most of my adult life, I can tell you that not all charities are created equal, and while most are well-meaning, not all are high-performing. If you want to make sure your charitable contribution brings you the most bang for your buck, no matter how much you have to give, here are some helpful hints to guide your giving and ensure you don't get scammed.

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