Showing posts with label Charitable organization. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Charitable organization. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

How the Government and Charities can Help Get you out of Debt

Wipe our Debt
Wipe our Debt (Photo credit: Images_of_Money)
Living under a mountain of debt is stressful, frustrating and can have a significant impact on your quality of life. Even though you may not think there's any help out there, you can get assistance with debt from area charities and even the government if you know where to look and how to approach the situation.

Debt Management: Where the Government and Charity Meet

Getting impartial professional advice regarding your current financial situation is the first step to becoming debt free. Counselors can help you negotiate with creditors, create a budget and do whatever else you need to do for financial solvency and get you on your way to alleviate that debt.

Debt services often charge fees, but you may qualify for free help through the government's Money Advice Service. Some agencies are operated by charities and charge low or no fees for helping individuals who qualify under their income criteria. According to the official services website of the UK government, the "Money Advice Service has information on organisations that can advise you about whether a Debt Management Plan is right for you.

Evaluate Your Circumstances From All Angles

In order to uncover every possible help resource, whether charity or government, you need to look at your current personal circumstances. If you're struggling with debt because you have ongoing medical issues and miss work, for example, you may be eligible for programs designed to help people under those particular circumstances or for those who have your illness.

Look at all the factors that are contributing to your financial situation while considering the big picture. You may not be considering buried circumstances that are causing you to struggle financially and that might cause you to miss avenues of help you qualify for. A little searching can definitely go a long way. 

Leave No Stone Unturned

Once you've identified everything that plays a part in your finances, start looking for outside help. Contact government agencies first, as many can point you in the direction of charities that can assist you even if you don't quality for any government programs. Don't assume you're not qualified for something until you've at least spoken to someone with that service or program.

Try information services, such as income support phone number, to get connected with government programs you may be eligible for. Ask government representatives about private programs you may qualify for whether you're approved or denied help.

Charities can be a little harder to pin down on your own, especially given how many have limited funding for advertising or may be struggling with outreach efforts. Prepare to do a bit of research to locate private agencies that can help you.

Check local online support forums for people in situations similar to yours to identify charity agencies you may not be aware of. Local government seats may have listings of charities that operate in the area. Use social media to check for charities in your area and to ask others if they're aware of any agencies if you feel comfortable doing so.

Make sure you follow application instructions and meet all the paperwork requirements for any government agency or charity you apply to. The sooner you turn in a completed application, the faster you'll get help.

Neal Bricker covers debt and financial topics related to seniors and others for various publications. He keeps up on current news and trends regarding services and debt management techniques.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Holiday Charitable Giving: Tips to Help You Do It Merry and Right

Beyond the obvious tax benefits and general warm feelings that end-of-the-year charitable giving brings to those who participate in it, donating money or goods to organizations whose mission is to serve those who are in need does a necessary good in the broader society. However, not all giving is as straightforward as it may seem, and if it isn’t done well, it can bring out the Scrooge in even the most giving of hearts.

Charitable giving—like most things—contains a sweet spot. For some givers, it’s a concern over tax breaks; for others, it’s a desire to make sure they stretch their dollar as far as it can go so the greatest good is accomplished. Whatever your preoccupation, these tips will help ensure your donations this holiday season are merry, bright, maximized and completely deductible. 


Most people know the majority of charities in the United States are nonprofits with a 501(c)(3) designation, which is the designation that means your donations to them are tax deductible. Beyond that, the details get murky for most people. Here are few other tips to keep you safe from Uncle Sam when you play Saint Nick this season:

  • Donations are deductible during the calendar year they are made in, which means the day you drop the check in the mail or charge a gift to your credit card.
  • Limits on how much you can claim and still receive a tax break only come into play when you reach above 20 percent of your income—but you can still give away as much as you want.
  • If you volunteer, you can’t deduct the hours you work, but you can claim any expenses that you paid to do the volunteering, like gas mileage.
  • The IRS also has a list of recommendations on getting tax breaks from charitable giving, which is great, because they’re the experts.
  • Keep Records

While all charitable organizations should send you receipts for any giving you do, it’s always still a good idea to keep your own records. After all, nobody’s perfect, right? So, if you’re giving money via a text message, you’ll need to keep a copy of the phone bill the gift was allocated to. If you write a check, write “Donation” in the memo line, andfor all your giving, keep a record of the following:

  • The name of the organization
  • The date of the gift
  • The means of giving (i.e. check, credit card, donated goods, etc.)
  • The amount of the gift

Get Your Employer to Match Your Donation

Even if you don’t work for a large company or corporation—but especially if you do—check with your boss or manager to see about a matching grant. Businesses are interested in tax breaks and in assisting their communities. If you can guide them to a charity that does both, you just made your donation—and your employer’s reputation—that much better.
Do a Background Check

Nobody wants to doubt a charity’s intentions, but it can still be a good idea to check with a site like Charity Navigator to make sure the organization you’re giving your money to is not just legitimate, but that it also handles its affairs well. An independent charity evaluator, Charity Navigator (and other sites like it) works to give donors information about almost 7,000 charities, and they gather information specifically related to a charity’s financial health and its accountability and transparency practices. You can find out how much of the money you give will go to the needs the charity is addressing, as well as how much of your gift will go to administrative work and salaries. Site that evaluate nonprofits take a lot of the unknowns and guesswork out of the giving equation, which puts donors at ease. It also helps good charities reap the rewards of being good stewards, while training a watchful eye in the direction of groups that aren’t as efficient or transparent as they could be—which provides good incentive for those groups to try harder.

Because a hefty portion of most charities’ annual operating budget comes in just as the ball drops on Times Square, year-end giving is their lifeblood. Whether you’re an unrepentant do-gooder or a secret softie who wants a tax break, follow these tips and you’ll ensure your gifts go as far as they can—for the organizations and your tax bill.

Image by imagerymajestic from

About the Author:Arnold Cooper is a blogger who previously worked as an accountant. He suggests considering charities such as Boat Angel for your holiday giving this season.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

How Much Can I Give to Charity?

Giving to charity is not limited to just your funds. While charities do rely on your money to help them succeed and help them do what they've set out to do, they need more than just your money to work effectively. Charities also need your time.

When deciding how much you should contribute to your favorite charitable cause, there are some considerations you have to examine. There is no standard amount of money or time you should spend on your favorite charity; each case is unique.

How much is appropriate?

If you're an avid churchgoer, you know you're supposed to give 10 percent to charity. However, most Americans don't give anywhere near 10 percent of their income to charity. Most Americans give far less, in fact.

The average amount of charitable donations over the course of one year in the average household is 3.2 percent. While it might not seem like much, many families give what they can afford to and they do it happily. It's not always a greed issue.

Consider what you can afford

Before you pledge 10 percent of your income to charity, consider what you make versus your expenses. The sad reality is that most average households cannot afford to donate 10 percent of their income to any charitable foundation, after all's said and done.

However, that doesn't mean you can't afford to give to charity at all. Even if you can afford only a few dollars here and there, every little bit helps -- even when you're on the strictest of budgets.

Give charities your time

Another way in which you can donate to charity is with your time. Charities need volunteers to help run their programs. They need people who are willing to serve, to help, to teach, and to work hard to make sure those in greatest need are getting what they should.

While financial giving is nice, if all you have is time, it's just as valuable to most charitable organizations.

Giving to charity is a highly personal financial decision. If you can afford 10 percent, by all means do it. If you can afford more than that, good for you. However, if all you can afford is a few hours of time every week, it's just as much appreciated by a charity as your money.

Giving comes in many forms. Financial giving is the most talked about, but it's not the only way you can provide a charity with your help.

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Fundraising 101: Turn a "No" Into a "Yes"

Fundraising in the dictionary According to GrantSpace, there are more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations registered in the United States. If you're keeping count, that is more than one million charitable organizations vying for the same donations. It's not unusual for fundraising professionals and volunteers to get a "no" from potential donors far more often than they get a "yes." Here's how to turn someone who doesn't want to donate into someone who does.

1.I Don't Have the Money

There's no doubt that times are tight right now. People across the country are not only living paycheck-to-paycheck, but are worrying about how to keep the lights on. When someone tells you that they don't have the money, empathize with them. Tell these people that you understand, but that even a dollar would help. Consider that if you got $1 from 100 people, you've raised $100 for your charity. If you try to force 100 people to give you a specific amount of money and all decline, you've raised nothing. 

2.I Already Donate to...

Many people will tell you that they already donate to a charitable organization, using the excuse to not donate to yours. Thank them for their generosity to the other charity, and kindly explain that your organization is not affiliated with that group. Explain how even $5 can help your group continue its mission. 

3.I Have to Talk to My Partner

Don't push someone who tells you that they have to speak with their partner before they can commit to donating to your charity. It's not unusual for people in a relationship to consult each other when it comes to joint finances. Instead, ask this person if you can call them a few days from now or stop back by. Do not rely on the fact that you will be contacted, take control of the situation. Remind the person that you are not asking for much, and reiterate that any little bit will help your charity or project.

Fundraising Event at Reading – 2011

4.I Don't Donate to Charity

Many people don't donate to charities simply because they don't understand the group's mission, history or current projects. Have a flash drive loaded with your information ready to hand this person. Empathize with your prospect, and let him know that you understand that there are millions of charities seeking his donation. Assure him that he will not be contacted again should he choose to donate one time only, and ask him to view your flash drive and pass it onto a friend or family member who may be interested. 

5.Send a Thank You

Send a thank you note or email to every person that you come into contact with, provided that you have at least gathered contact information. Even if the person doesn't donate, thank them for taking the time to speak to you. This simple act of courtesy may encourage someone to donate even after they have told you no.

You never want to pressure anyone to donate to your organization, but you do want to have responses at the ready if you receive an initial no. If someone takes the time to explain to you why they will not, or cannot, donate, take the time to respond. You'll never turn a "no" into a "yes" if you don't try.

Writer Ken Osteen is an avid blogger for where you'll find more ways to use technology to help with fundraising.

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