Many people open their pocketbooks during the holiday season to give to organizations and charities. Charitable giving expert Lisa Dietlin says there are some things you should consider before you give. She shares with Jean tips to help you make smart and meaningful holiday donations:
Donate to a cause that strikes a chord with you. "Think about what you really care about," Lisa says. "Is it about lifting people up or eradicating something in this world?"
Make your donation locally. Lisa says you may be inspired to continue donating when you see how your contribution is affecting your local community.
Seek out local chapters of national organizations. "They know what is going on in the community, they know the reoccurring issues, the issues on the horizon and issues they have already taken care of," she says.
Set a charitable giving budget. Know how much you are going to spend and where the donations are going to go. At the same time, Lisa suggests also setting aside a little extra—"just in case something tugs at your heartstrings."
Save receipts that prove you've donated. Lisa says most donations are tax deductible and can help your bottom line at the end of the year.
Watch out for scam artists. If you are solicited over the phone or by an e-mail, check out the organization's website and call its headquarters to confirm that it is legitimate, Lisa says. Just because the website has a ".org" extension doesn't mean it is a true nonprofit organization, she says.
Spread your contributions throughout the year. While many people wait until the holidays to give, Lisa says most organizations are in need year-round and can benefit from monthly donations as well as one-time gifts.
Printed from Oprah.com on Friday, December 6, 2013