Consumer Alert: Make your donations count

As the year comes to an end, many of us think about ways to maximize our charitable giving for the upcoming tax season.

Charities count on it. On average, nonprofits collect a quarter of their donations during the month of December.

There are a whole lot of organizations counting on you. But, as consumers, smart giving is key. You want to make sure that the organization uses most of its funds to fuel the mission, not for administrative costs.

The Salvation Army is one of many charities that is very visible during the holiday season. In Rochester, its programs include emergency and family services, housing, addiction services, and hunger relief.

But nationally, nonprofits were disappointed by the contributions on Giving Tuesday. Ten percent fewer Americans donated this year than last year, affecting the communities that those nonprofits serve.

Commissioner Ken Hodder, Salvation Army National Commander: “Last year, the Army served about 25,000 people. So we are asking folks to remember this Christmas that money they put in that kettle will stay in Rochester.”
Deanna Dewberry, News10NBC: “From a consumer standpoint – I’m a consumer investigator – I always tell people to give wisely. And one way to do that is to look at the 990 and see how much of their budget is actually going toward the cause. Can you tell me those numbers right off hand?”
Ken Hodder: “Absolutely. On a national scale, the Salvation Army will use about 82 cents of every dollar to go directly to the people that we help.”

Here’s Deanna’s Do-List of things we should ask before we give:

The first question is, how much of the money collected goes toward the cause? Eighty-two cents of every dollar is excellent. Charity watch says it should be at least 75 cents of every dollar.

Make sure your donation is tax deductible. Is the charity a registered 501C-3?

Check the charity’s website. Are they active in our community?

Lastly, check their rating on websites like Charity Watch or Charity Navigator.

The extraordinary work charities do in our community can’t be done without you.

They’re counting on all of us to give. But it’s up to us to give wisely.