How to Make Memorial Donations
It is common for people that see the frustrations and sorrows of others to want to do something to help them. Since not everyone can take the time to get into the trenches of actually doing the help, there is a rightful place for wanting to make donations to aid of those that are doing the work. However, while it is common for people to feel empathy for those that are in need, it is equally common for others to feed on that empathy to fund themselves, instead. These people pose as charities or religious organizations to collect donations, little of which actually make it into the hands of those that actually could use the money. Unfortunately, memorial donations are similarly subject to this type of manipulation, added with the layer of preying on those that are sad for the wounded and grieving. So, how can you know you are donating to a reputable provider?
1. Papers, Please
Ask to see documents that verify them as being an officially recognized charity. You may feel that it is improper or impolite to challenge someone that is asking for donations. However, it is not rude to verify this information. A quality provider of charity services will WANT to let you know they are official. If you sense there is a hesitancy to provide or show documents, there may be a reason that they are being hesitant.
2. Get Their Tax Info
Just as there are many that pass themselves off as a charity or a charitable fund, there are many that DO have an organization that provides services but are NOT eligible for the IRS to accept as exempt payment for the services. When it comes time for claiming your donations on your taxes, you will need them to be on the list of officially registered charities in order to claim the deductions. At the IRS you can search a list of Internal Revenue Code accepted companies.
Does the memorial fund state what it is designed to fund, specifically. For example, is it a fund for wounded soldiers that will be building a specific monument or to go to specific families, or did they just say it is for...wounded soldiers? If you are in doubt about the authenticity of an organization, take a look at the Better Business Bureau's search page of organizations and see if they have been reviewed by them. If they have not, see what you can find out about their effectiveness in public page searches or testimonials.
4. Be Personal
While money is good, a personal touch is better. Sometimes, it is true that people are financially hurting, as a result of a tragedy that has occurred. However, a lot of time, they are just feeling detached and alone. While hearing that someone has donated to their fund will be encouraging, a present or a card can go a lot further toward healing their emotional wounds. Ask the provider if there is a way that you can donate cookies or write a letter to them, as well. Again, if they are a legitimate charity, they will welcome this kind of compassion.
5. Get a Receipt
Finally, a recognized and authentic charity to provide a memorial to any project will be practiced at providing you evidence of your donation. This is especially important if the donation was in cash. A check will process through your bank, but there is nothing that confirms a cash transaction, other than a receipt. Also, make sure that the receipt has their information on the letterhead. When it comes time for tax filing or an audit, you will want evidence of the donation on a form that does not look like you just put the receipt together on your personal computer.
It is a sad commentary on our society that we have to be so careful, when it comes to donations of the heart. However, as long as we use our heads, there are real ways that you can not only make a difference but protect yourself, as well. These 5 points will help guide you in making that contribution.