The holidays are a time for giving thanks, spending time with loved ones and giving back to the community. To help you donate to charitable organizations both effectively and safely, it is important to follow these tips during this holiday season:
Know Who You Are Giving To
Avoid donating to a charity that you’re unfamiliar with. When solicited for a donation, always ask for the charity’s registration number (CH#), as well as the paid solicitor’s registration number, if applicable. Visit our online Gift Givers Guide to determine what percentage of donations go to administrative, fundraising and program expenses. All charities soliciting within the state of Florida, excluding religious, educational, political and governmental entities, are required to register and file financial information with the department. Florida law gives prospective donors the right to request and receive a copy of a charity's financial report, such as a copy of the organization's IRS 990 income tax return, annual report, or a breakdown of how the money is spent, prior to donating. If a charity does not provide you with the information you request, you may want to think twice about donating.
Take Your Time
Some solicitors use high-pressure tactics and may even offer to send a "runner" to pick up your money right away. Don’t feel forced to make a quick decision without getting all the information that you want to ensure you make an informed decision. Reputable charities and organizations are just as happy to receive your gift tomorrow as today.
Keep Good Records of Your Donations
Be sure to obtain a receipt or printed copy of your donation in order to have a record for tax reporting purposes. Even if an organization is tax exempt, your contribution may not be tax deductible. Ask for the charity's tax-exempt number issued by the Internal Revenue Service and call them for verification.
Donate Safely Online
If you decide to donate online, do not assume a web address ending in ".org" rather than ".com" is a non-profit organization. Anyone can purchase an ".org" web address. Some charities do not change the information on their websites for months or even years. Find out when their information was last updated to avoid running the risk of supporting an organization that has changed its purpose, programs or no longer holds a valid registration.
For additional information, please visit us online at www.800helpfla.com or call 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352) within Florida, 1-800-FL-AYUDA (352-9832) en Español, or (850) 410-3800 from outside of Florida.