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Charitable Giving this Holiday Season

by Brett Backues on December 21, 2011
Charitable Giving this Holiday Season
Wed, 12/21/2011 - 12:00am
As we all know, the holiday season is considered the season of giving.  We can satisfy our generous spirit and improve our tax bill at the same time through charitable giving. 
It would be a great idea to celebrate the holidays by giving to a charitable organization that serves a cause that has a special meaning to the family.  Introducing this activity as a family tradition could make this holiday season that much more special.
When selecting a charity, do your homework.  Most charities are legitimate and use the majority of their money for worthwhile projects, but some better than others.  Set up your own guidelines for ranking charities, and watch out for scams and misrepresentations.  Here are some tips:
    •    Know the organization.  You might be familiar with some organizations already, because of your own involvement, or that of a friend or family member. 
    •    Ask for information such as financials and other written information about the charity’s program.
    •    Ask how much of your money will go to administrative and fundraising costs (as opposed to directly toward the cause you care about).   You don’t want commercial fundraisers keeping a big chunk of your donations.  There are 117 commercial fundraisers registered with the State of Washington, and only 10 of them report that over 80% of what they collect go to the charity they are raising funds for.  (See the Washington State Commercial Fundraiser Activity Report )
    •    Find out if the organization is a 501(c)(3) organization and if your donation would be tax deductible. 
    •    Get receipts
You need to contribute by December 31 in order for your donation to be tax deductible this year. 
Personally, I have been honored to be the Treasurer for the Chris Elliott Fund for Glioblastoma Brain Cancer Research.  The goal of this amazing organization is to end brain cancer through patient advocacy, education and research.  Recently, the National Brain Tumor Society has awarded Dellann Elliott, the president and CEO of the Chris Elliott Fund, with the Community Leadership Award during the 2011 NBTS summit in Philadelphia.  You can read the press release here.

Dellann and Chris Elliott co-founded CEF three weeks before Chris’ death in 2002 from brain cancer. CEF is a nationally recognized model for patient advocacy and has invested over $500,000 in support of programs to help patients fight the disease from every angle, including over $1 million to promote cutting-edge brain cancer research. Access to advanced treatments and genetic testing extends lives and leads us closer to a cure.