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Guidelines for Giving

Six questions you should ask before making a donation

The season of giving is upon us - and there are many charities in southeast Michigan that need your help. But how do you figure out which ones are the most worthy? The Michigan Nonprofit Association has a handy guide to help you evaluate your choices. Here are six "Giving Wisely" questions it suggests you ask before making a donation.

1. What is the organization's purpose?

2. What programs or services will your donation support? You have the right to ask exactly how your funds will be used - and even to request that your money be designated for a certain purpose. However, keep in mind that in difficult financial times, donations with few strings attached can be the most helpful.

3. How much of your donation will go toward programming rather than administrative expenses?

4. Is the donation tax deductible? Only donations to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations are deductible on the federal level. Make sure to ask if the organization has received this tax-exempt status from the IRS. Click here for more information.

5. Does the organization have measurable goals? Ask about the organization's recent accomplishments and what it hopes to accomplish in the next year.

6. Is the organization licensed to solicit funds from the public? Under Michigan law, most charities must be. To find out if a charity is licensed, visit the Michigan Attorney Generals' charities hotlink or call 877-765-8388.

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