New York As we approach the holiday season, you may find yourself fielding a barrage of requests for charitable contributions. Why? "Because it's the season of giving - whether it's the giving of gifts or the giving of one's self," says Paulette Maehara, president and CEO of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
In fact, the fundraising done in November and December helps many charitable organizations make their budget for the year, says Maehara.
The world is full of charities well worth supporting. But there's no shortage of charity scams out there, so it pays to be cautious. To ensure that your money goes to a deserving organization, it's wise to follow the Federal Trade Commission's list of do's and don'ts:
¢ Do ask how much of your donation goes to the cause. If you are asked to support a charity by buying items such as like greeting cards or magazines subscriptions find out what percentage of your purchase will be used to support the cause.
¢ Do contact the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving alliance at www.give.org to make sure the organization is authorized to solicit money.
¢ Do request a receipt stating the amount of the contribution and verifying that it is tax-deductible.
¢ Don't give cash. Writing a check to the organization is a good way to make sure that your money ends up in the right hands. It also ensures that you'll have the documentation you need to claim the deduction on your taxes.
¢ Don't give phone or email solicitors personal information. Providing your Social Security, credit card or bank account number over the phone or the Internet can put you at risk of identity theft.
¢ Don't succumb to pressure tactics. If the person requesting a donation uses intimidation or threats to elicit a contribution, contact the Better Business Bureau.