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Guest Post: 7 Reasons to Give More of Your Money To Charity

June 3, 2010 · Filed Under Giving · 6 Comments 
Today’s guest post is provided by Melissa Tamura.  Melissa Tamura writes about online degree programs for Zen College Life. She most recently edited the guide to the best online colleges.

“Charity” can be a loaded word that means something different to everyone. Charity can be pejorative, such as: “Those charity cases get money, sit on their backsides, and don’t work”. It can be a scornful word, meaning a break is being given because one is better than the other, for example: “Tom took the girl out on a charity date.”

It’s interesting how the word was first used, hundreds of years ago; “charity” meant “love”. It could almost be said that “charity” had a double meaning from the start. You give charity because you have charity. Charity, in its modern sense, means that we feel a kind of love when we give, even for those we may never meet.

People who need charity now, in large part, are people who never needed charity before. The ruined economy, predatory lenders, and the bank bailouts that helped no one except the banks have made a new class of poor in our country. Anyone who escaped relatively unscathed from the recent economic meltdown can thank their lucky stars by opening their wallets a little wider when it comes time to give to charity. Below are seven more very good reasons to give.

Tax Deductions

Lots of folks give to the charities of their choice for this reason. Others find it a nice reward for the charity they give. Whatever reason, give, keep the receipts, and claim it on next year’s taxes.

It Will Save You Money Long Term

This may sound in essence a bit cold, but here goes. Children who receive a good education, have someone who cares about them, and eat nutritious meals are more apt to finish school and stay out of trouble. Donate to boys and girls clubs, local schools, food banks and free lunch programs, or some other charity that helps out kids. You won’t have to pay in the future for new prisons, for one thing, and if spending for prisons isn’t throwing your money down a rat hole, what is?

You may need charity yourself one day.

Donate for research to learn the cure for cancer, HIV, MS, MD, diabetes; whichever charity speaks to you. Hopefully the cure will be found before you or someone you love is diagnosed with these illnesses.

Create a Lasting Legacy

Donate to building funds for hospitals, libraries, schools, your local church. Perhaps you aren’t rich enough to have a wing named after you, but your kids can tell your grandkids that you help build something important.

For Your Grandchildren

While we’re on the subject of grandkids, you do want them to experience clean water, fresh air, icebergs and wild animals, don’t you? Donate to environmental groups, wildlife groups, conservation groups; they’ll be glad you did.

Healthy for the Soul

It’s good to give, why else do we celebrate gift giving holidays? You don’t have to go around trumpeting how much money you give to a particular charity; you can celebrate that warm glow quietly and teach your kids to do the same. It’s only money, right? Put your money where your mouth is.

If not you, who will?

Sad but true. There are a significant number of folks who think being a cold hearted old skinflint is a sign of good character. Give to prove them wrong.

Guest Post: How To Avoid Donating to a Fake Charity

May 13, 2010 · Filed Under Giving · 1 Comment 
This guest post comes from Michael, a contributing editor of the Dough Roller, a personal finance and investing blog, and Credit Card Offers IQ, a credit card review site.

In the wake of one of the largest earthquakes the world has ever seen, donations continue to come in by the thousands to help Haiti rebuild. While the outpouring of support has been tremendous, a tragedy like this is also an excellent opportunity for someone to take advantage. Charities continue to do excellent work in helping those that cannot afford to help themselves but for every legitimate organization, there seem to be two illegitimate ones.

Pinpointing a fraudulent charity can be difficult at times and it is certainly not an exact science, but knowing what to look for and how to handle your donations in the future, should ensure that the money you are donating goes to the people that need your help. The next time you are courted to make a donation, follow the tips below to avoid donating to scammers.

  1. Never Make a Donation Over the Phone (Unless You Initiated the Call) – Legitimate charities do have a habit of cold calling for donations so many of the calls you receive could be real, however there is no way of knowing with a simple phone call if the person on the other line is who they say they are. If you are interested in their cause, ask them for the website information and offer to mail in a donation. Giving your credit card information over the phone is never a smart idea.
  2. Never Make a Donation In Cash – The easiest way to lose your donation to fraud is to give them something that cannot be traced. If the organization has a booth set up, feel free to write a personal check from your online checking account. If you’re mailing in your donation, provide a money order or check written in the name of the charity. Being asked to make the donation payable to “Reggie” is an automatic no-no. For tax purposes, keeping a paper record of your donation is important. If you’re unlucky enough to donate to a scam, the IRS may audit your tax return, which is definitely something you want to avoid.
  3. Never Make a Donation Through Email – Charities are fearful of being labeled as spam, so sending out mass-emails looking for donations doesn’t happen. If you ever see an email from someone stating to be a charity looking for a donation, there is an extreme amount of high-risk involved. Email is extremely un-secure and the link you click on to make your donation can take you absolutely anywhere.
  4. Gather As Much Information As You Can – Before making a final decision, make sure you have gathered all of the available information there is on your charity of choice. Finding information can be easy, and doing any of the following should put your mind at ease:

Ask to see the organizations tax-exempt letter from the IRS. If they do not have one, or are unwilling to provide it, think twice about why.

Visit the charities website and look for things such as good grammar, a permanent street address, success stories, an outline of what the charities goals are, financial statements that tell you where the money goes and a board of directors. If you see that they are lacking many of the things above, it’s another sign that they might not be who they say they are.

Visit the IRS’s website and look them up. The IRS lists over 1.5 million charitable organizations that they recognize and if your charity isn’t on the list, time to move on.

If you think that you’ve been taken, you should immediately call the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and file a complaint. 1-877-FTC-HELP begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              1-877-FTC-HELP      end_of_the_skype_highlighting (382-4357). Hopefully though, after reading the steps above to protect yourself, you never have a need for this phone number.

Personal Finance Basics Part 1 – The Basics of the Basics

August 11, 2008 · Filed Under PF Basics · 2 Comments 
Personal Finance Basics

Today I am starting a series on personal financial planning basics. In this series, I’m going to go over some of the main topics of personal finance – this will be a high level introduction to the topics that most people should consider when they first get started thinking about personal finances.

Today’s post will go over the very basic necessities – these are the things that you must think about for any basic financial plan. This is the bare minimum you should consider if you want to properly take care of yourself and your family. In part 2 of this series, I will go over some “optimizations” to the plan (hey, I’m an engineer, this is just how I talk)(no, not the kind that drives trains). These first two posts are to serve as the introduction to the topic. In future posts, I will get into more detail on each topic.

So, this is my list of the basic items needed for a financial plan: Click here to continue reading…

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