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Three Tips for Choosing a Charity for Year-End Gift

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It's important to nonprofits -- and it will be important to you, come tax time.

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The holidays are nearly over, but there's still one gift that you have left to give. This one doesn't require slogging to a store, waiting in lines, or even worrying about whether the recipient will like what you chose. Because I promise you, your charitable contribution today will make a charity's development office very, very happy.

A year-end donation is important for you because it will help come tax time. And it's monumentally important for charities, which are pulling out all the stops to meet their year-end fundraising goals. I know most charities are fighting very hard to reach that goal this year.

So you've got lots of nonprofits interested in your donor dollar. I'm sure your mailbox has been full of requests. How do you decide where to donate? Here are the three tips I give friends when they ask me that question.

1. Think depth, not breadth.

Let's say you have $5,000 you want to give. Do you give 10 charities $500 each, or two charities $2,500 each. I opt for the latter. Why? This late in the year, your $2,500 donation can be a game-changer for a charity. A mere $500 won't have the same effect. Now, I know any charity would be happy with a $500 gift, but they can accomplish more with a donation five times that amount.

2. Continue supporting causes near and dear.

Do you always give to your alma mater or local hospital? Continue giving to those places that have earned your trust and loyalty. But for your second charity, think about the greater struggles going on in our country right now. Charities that help people hit hardest by the recession, such as those that provide job training, housing assistance, and emergency food and shelter, need the most support right now. (See, Charities Navigate the Recession.)

3. Ask around for recommendations.


Talk to your friends and colleagues, people whose opinions you respect, and find out which charities they support and why. (See, Give Your Time, Talents, and Song.) Post a discussion on the Minyanville message boards and see what suggestions come from your peers. If you have time, do an impromptu, on-site visit to the charity. (See, The Five Questions You Should Ask When Choosing a Charity.) If that's not possible, a quick check on CharityNavigator.org can confirm whether the nonprofit is worthy of your support.

By seeking out all this information, you'll make a choice that you're not only comfortable with, but that you know is a good use of your money. And whether we're talking investments or donations, you always want a good return on your dollar.
No positions in stocks mentioned.

The information on this website solely reflects the analysis of or opinion about the performance of securities and financial markets by the writers whose articles appear on the site. The views expressed by the writers are not necessarily the views of Minyanville Media, Inc. or members of its management. Nothing contained on the website is intended to constitute a recommendation or advice addressed to an individual investor or category of investors to purchase, sell or hold any security, or to take any action with respect to the prospective movement of the securities markets or to solicit the purchase or sale of any security. Any investment decisions must be made by the reader either individually or in consultation with his or her investment professional. Minyanville writers and staff may trade or hold positions in securities that are discussed in articles appearing on the website. Writers of articles are required to disclose whether they have a position in any stock or fund discussed in an article, but are not permitted to disclose the size or direction of the position. Nothing on this website is intended to solicit business of any kind for a writer's business or fund. Minyanville management and staff as well as contributing writers will not respond to emails or other communications requesting investment advice.

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