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Donating to Charity Safely and Wisely

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Donating to Charity Wisely

 
Charitable organizations at home and abroad do incredible work. Some charities concentrate on humanitarian aid for people in need. Others work to improve the lives of animals, to protect the environment, to cure diseases, to provide scholarships to deserving students, or to support arts and culture. Donating to charity can be very fulfilling for the donor, and can also have positive tax benefits. But before donating, be sure to consider carefully which causes to support. Make the most of your generosity!
 

Factors to Consider

 
First, consider what activities you want to support. You may feel that you’d like to improve the lives of animals. There are many options that will help you to do that, from supporting local organizations that care for stray cats and dogs to funding conservation efforts for endangered species such as the giant panda or the Sumatran orangutan. You could donate funds earmarked for a specific purpose, or give to an organization that provides several programs that benefit animals.
 
Do you want to donate to an organization that has a religious or a secular approach? Some donors feel comfortable with donating to a cause sponsored by a particular denomination; others prefer organizations with no religious philosophy.
 
Next, assess how much you can afford to give. Do you want to give a large sum to one charity, or smaller amounts to various organizations? A large sum can help an organization build a well in an African village that needs clean water, or fund a program to bring opera into local classrooms, and that can be very satisfying to see. But smaller sums may keep a number of charities operating more efficiently, and that will also affect lives.
 
Another point to consider is whether you’d like to pledge ongoing support, rather than offering a one-time donation. This is simple to set up and helps charities plan their activities. As well, many donors leave bequests for their favourite charities in their wills.
 

Research

 
When you’ve narrowed down your options, do some research about the charities you’re interested in. Do their core values align your beliefs? Are their activities effective? After studying the charity’s website, visit the Canadian Revenue Agency’s list of charitable organizations. These listings contain information about the charity’s allocation of resources, charitable number and receipts, and more. If the charity does not appear on the CRA website, investigate further before donating.
 
Also, try to make sure that the charity you support is taking the best approach to the problems they’re working to solve. Organizations that boast a high level of local and community involvement are likely to have more success than ones that work from the top down. As an example, it’s currently accepted that children raised in a family setting do better than those placed in orphanages. In some jurisdictions, UNICEF estimates that 75% or more of the children in orphanages actually have living parents. Rather than housing the children in institutions, effective groups are trying to reunite children with their parents (or find foster care) and then supporting the family by providing food, medical care, and school fees, when necessary.
 
Your donation can mean a great deal to the charity you support. Make your contribution count by donating to charity wisely!

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