Marie Houde: How to be an Agent of Good for Those in Need

Call it giving season.

As the weather cools and shoppers’ wallets start to fill up, charitable giving tends to spike, as the weather turns cooler and folks think about how they can spend those extra funds.

This autumn, it’s understandable to want to do some charitable giving. With a strong economy and plenty of job growth, there’s lots of good will to go around.

Charity raises a couple of complicated challenges for us as donors. One is that it is hard to sift through all the charity requests to make sure the money is reaching its intended recipients.

Further, there’s a lot of fact-checking and verification involved that we know is not necessarily “nice to have.” But with so many seeking our largesse these days, it can be more difficult than ever to vet the organizations available for us to support.

Here are some tips on how to navigate the waters of donation season.

When it comes to cash donations, be careful what you contribute to. Some charities may take cash donations, but ask first about what they will use it for. Don’t be naive and give to a group that expects to use the cash for some other purpose.

Also, if you decide you want to give tax-deductible funds, make sure it’s a limited-term gift. This can help avoid scams, where the money is given out over a period of time — months or years — when a specific problem is going to be resolved.

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Source: PBS Washington bureau

Connect with Marie Houde on Twitter: @mariehdhoude

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