Make those last-minute charitable donations count

The rush is on to make charitable donations before year's end, but Utahns still need to find time to make smart choices to ensure their donations will do the most good. Photo credit:

SALT LAKE CITY – With the clock now racing toward midnight, the rush is on to make last-minute charitable donations before the end of the year. 

One expert is urging residents in Utah to do their homework to maximize their year-end contributions. 

In order to receive a tax deduction, donations must be made to legitimate, registered charities, and Joanne Reisser, vice president for development at Charity Navigator, stresses that it’s up to donors to do the research.

“Look for more than just storytelling,” she explains. “Look for real evidence of results, perhaps a number of people served. That’s better than just saying, ‘We save lives,’ period.”

Reisser recommends looking at the organization’s website, reading its fund-raising appeals, and searching online for financial information. 

There are close to 2 million nonprofit organizations in the United States, and roughly 7,000 of them are rated online, at <a href=”” target=”parent”></a>.

When donating goods, such as household items and clothing, Reisser points out that good record keeping is essential, including a written acknowledgement from the charity for any donation worth $250 or more.

“Charities really are not allowed to value a donation,” she explains. “It’s up to donors to value what it is that they’re donating.”

Only taxpayers who itemize using IRS Form 1040 can claim deductions for charitable donations. 

Detailed rules and forms are available at <a href=”” target=”parent”></a>.

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