Sunday, December 27, 2009

Time for Charities

As we roll down to the end of the calendar year, it's also the time for many people to consider making charitable donations. Partly because it's the holidays, and part of the holidays is giving, but also because it's the last chance to move taxable income out of the reach of the IRS by donating it to charities.

But how to choose what charity? There are, for example dozens of environmental charities, and dozens of charities that purport to help children, or that plan to feed the starving, or shelter the homeless. These charities seem to have overlapping or sometimes identical-seeming missions. What's a donor to do?

American Institute of Philanthropy AIP is praised as the toughest of the raters of charities, unafraid to give flunking grades to charities who mis-spend the money people give them. The AIP home page is simply designed with links at the top to let you decide if you want their list of top-ranked charities organized by area, or if you want to search their A-Z list, read how they rank, or look through their Tips For Giving Wisely. They also have quite a list of articles, from discussing charities that protest their F grades, to Veterans deserve better, to Fake Charities, to Inflated Charity Efficiency Claims, Children Wish Granting Charities, American Indian Charities, In-Kind Donations, Reforming Charities articles that expose shocking stories, Salary articles, articles about solicitations (come-ons) from charities, and MORE TIPS! There are lots of special articles specifically about individual charities, so you can look for yours, or the one you might be thinking about.

There is also an article on MSN here "How to tell good charities from bad," by Liz Pulliam Weston. She mentions AIP, but also sends readers to the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance, and, which began in 1994 to publish 501(c)(3) and some other not-for-profit corporations' tax filing information. They also offer tips and ratings on charities.

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