Charities and Donating
A charity or a non-profit organization embodies religious, educated, and philanthropic assistance to the government and communities in order to promote health, relief, and solutions to poverty for those distressed during dire economic times. Charitable organizations operate to promote vital solutions to a cause, usually to correct problems within a community, region, and nation. Nonprofit organizations are protected under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, which exempts charities from paying federal income tax. Charitable organizations help to rebuild, restore, and replenish communities, regions, and nations with the necessary knowledge and material goods to successfully sustain the people living within those confines. These organizations will make a difference in the lives of those impoverished, oppressed, suffering from illnesses, or recuperating after disaster strikes.
Donors with a heavy heart should beware committing to a pledge. Charitable organizations could attract financial sharks looking to elude paying federal income tax. Researching the reputable nature of these nonprofit organizations will assure that all donations are correctly distributed. Depending on the size of the organization, a small portion of charitable proceeds will address administrative costs; however, the vast majority of the funds should support the cause. In fact, most reputable charities will have a full disclosure of the prior year’s annual proceeds. Every donor should ask if the cause is something they believe in before committing to a pledge. Taking the time to weigh the various options will assure that all prospective donations are willingly made.
Some charities will accept property donations such as no longer needed vehicles, boats, yachts, RVs, trucks, and heavy construction equipment. One such firm that handles such donations for some of America’s finest charities and non-profits is Action Donation Services® – they will pick up qualified donations nationwide at no cost to the donor and then provide the donor with the appropriate IRS receipt when the property is sold on behalf of the charity designated by the donor. Such donors are entitled to the maximum legal tax deduction and possibly a partial cash payment (called a bargain sale by the IRS) so both the donor and the charity may benefit.
How to Evaluate Charities
- Charity Navigator – America’s Largest Charity Database: Charity Navigator is an organization with one goal in mind: to evaluate and promote efficient and philanthropic efforts by the 5,500 active charities in the United States.
- Better Business Bureau – Charities and Donors: The Better Business Bureau evaluates and promotes trustworthy charitable organizations and may seek legal recourse if enough complaints arise that suggest fraud or other forms of business negligence, such as the misappropriation of funds.
- Just Tzedakah.org – How to Evaluate Charities before You Give (PDF): An extensive resource providing an outline to take the necessary steps in evaluating charities before giving.
- Guide Star – Nonprofit Reports and Forms: An organization dedicated to evaluating charitable organizations and ensuring the funds support the cause.
- American Institute of Philanthropy: The American Institute of Philanthropy is a watchdog organization dedicated to informing donors of wise decisions when seeking charities with a desired cause.
- Office of the Attorney General: Tips for Evaluating a Charity: The Office of the Attorney General provides helpful tips for donors seeking to evaluate a charitable organization before committing to pledge.
- AARP Foundation: The AARP Foundation helps struggling older Americans meet their financial needs by filling in the gap during these dire economic times. The AARP Foundation is BBB Sealed approved.
- American Cancer Society: The American Cancer Society researches and provides relative information to surviving cancer patients and their families. The American Cancer Society is BBB and Health on the Net Seal approved.
- BoatUS Foundation: Promotes safe and environmentally sensitive boating.
- Amnesty International, USA: Amnesty International, USA aims to protect the rights of those wrongly accused of crimes or victimized by perpetrators. Amnesty International, USA seeks to promote human rights for all, regardless of race, sex, gender, or creed.
- Huntsman Cancer Foundation: To understand cancer from its beginnings, to use that knowledge in the creation and improvement of cancer treatments, to relieve the suffering of cancer patients, and to provide education about cancer risk, prevention, and care.
- Paralyzed Veterans of America – Mountain States Chapter: For over 64 years, PVA has been helping our seriously injured heroes to change and improve their lives.
- The Global Hunger Project: The Hunger Project aims to empower people to build a life to meet their basic needs around the globe. The Hunger Project provides diagrams and pertinent information detailing how and where the funds are dispersed once collected.
- Human Rights Watch: The Human Rights Watch organization is a watchdog group aiming to reinstate the God-given rights of all humanity oppressed in regions with predisposition to genocide, torture, and terrorism.
Find Additional Charities
- Action Donation Services: A listing of reputable and well known national charities that accept property donations such as no longer needed cars, boats, motorhomes, RVs, trucks, motorcycles, and heavy equipment.
- Catholic Charities, USA: An organization dedicated to promoting reputable catholic charities aiming to make a difference around the world for the honor of God.
- Charity Choice, UK: Charity Choice, an organization promoting the search of over 10,000 charities across the globe, includes many different searchable options, including donor and volunteer information.
- Japan Today: Japan Today reports on the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan in the wake of a terrifying catastrophe. Japan Today tracks the dedicated efforts to provide financial and interpersonal support while the survivors attempt to pick up the shattered pieces.
- The Chronicle of Philanthropy: A small organization dedicated to promoting different types of charities by promoting their causes and evaluating their practice.
- WebMD: WebMD promotes reputable health charities, including pertinent information and resources that can benefit donors and patients seeking care.
Volunteering for charitable organizations could reveal itself as a rewarding experience. For instance, the intrinsic value of placing one’s self aside in order to help another or even an entire community should be enough reason to devote a small portion of time for a philanthropic cause. Other external reasons may include the benefit of learning a new trade or skill, community inclusion, interpersonal development, boosting career options, and experiencing memorable events to share with friends and family. It is also a great way to meet people who have the same passions. The community benefits greatly because every contribution counts in rebuilding, restoring, and replenishing a once thriving environment that may have suffered the consequences of man-made or natural disasters. Other causes may include philanthropic efforts to help impoverished, third-world nations escape the oppressive brutality of a tyrannical regime or building relationships with patients suffering from a debilitating disease. There are many different organizations aimed to produce solutions to various causes; however, the volunteers are the driving force to bring these goals to fruition. A small amount of devotion goes a long way.
Benefits of Volunteering
- Help Guide – Volunteering and its Surprising Benefits: Help Guide enlightens prospective volunteers on the importance of community service, and how it can help strengthen and broaden one’s personal and interpersonal horizon.
- United Way: Benefits of Volunteering: United Way presents the important benefits behind volunteering and external links that may help prospective volunteers find the edge they need while gaining the personal satisfaction in helping the community they live in.
- New York Times – The Benefits of Volunteerism: An article explaining the various benefits of volunteering from the participants to the cause.
- Virginia Service – Benefits of Volunteering: Virginia Service addresses the various benefits behind volunteerism, including a healthy lifestyle, an increase in academic credits, federal tax and state mileage deductions, and an enhancement to current resumes.
Find Volunteer Opportunities
- Volunteer Match: A searchable database with potential prospects for future volunteers.
- National and Community Service: A government-sponsored searchable database loaded with opportunities and information for prospective volunteers.
- World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF): A network based on a work-exchange program between organic farmers and volunteers.
- Volunteer.gov: America’s Natural and Cultural Resources Volunteer Portal: A resource page linking volunteers to opportunities across America’s natural reserves.
- Idealist.org: An organization linking graduates with volunteer, intern, and employment opportunities relevant to their major.
Reputable Volunteer Organizations
- Peace Corps: A U.S. government-sponsored organization connecting volunteers with opportunities to work abroad.
- International Volunteer Programs Association: A membership-sponsored organization aiming to connect volunteers with opportunities to work abroad.
- Lions Club International: A volunteer organization launching coordinated efforts to help rebuild and sustain communities around the world.
- National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster: A unified non-profit organization conglomerate aiming to rebuild and restore communities in the aftermath of a man-made or natural disaster.
- Global Volunteer Network: An organization connecting volunteers to struggling communities located in South America, Africa, and Asia.
- University of Arkansas: Volunteer Organizations: The University of Arkansas recommends a short list of volunteer organizations to local residents.
- The Arbor Day Foundation: Volunteer Organizations by State: The Arbor Day Foundation has local branches of its organization, which connects volunteers to tree-planting opportunities.
- Habitat for Humanity: This nonprofit organization gathers volunteers to build homes for families regardless of race or religion. This organization believes that every family should have a safe, affordable, and decent place to call home.