Daily Dupaco

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Giving guide: tips for making charitable donations

'Tis the season for giving.

And it's important to remember those in need, says a local philanthropy expert.

"Local nonprofits are the organizations that make a real difference right here in Dubuque. They know where our community's greatest unmet needs are and work hard every day to meet them," says Hillary Baker, director of communications and donor relations at the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque.

"In tough economic times like these, the need is even greater, making your support of local nonprofits more important than ever."

If you'd like to donate to a nonprofit, use GuideStar to investigate charitable organizations. The website details both the mission and financial stewardship of nonprofits. To learn more about local nonprofits, visit the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque's Giving Center.

For tax-reporting purposes, Baker offers these donating guidelines:

  • Your gift of cash or property must meet certain criteria in order to be tax-deductible.
  • You must actually donate cash or property. A pledge or promise to donate is not deductible until you pay.
  • You must contribute to a qualified tax-exempt organization. Charities will let you know if they have received their 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. Some organizations, including churches and other religious organizations, are not required to obtain this status from the IRS. 
  • You must be able to itemize. Giving to charity is a great tax planning strategy, but it only works for people who are eligible to itemize their deductions.
  • You must meet record keeping requirements. This includes saving canceled checks, acknowledgment letters from the charity and appraisals for donated property.

By Emily Kittle

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