Guidelines for Giving: Questions to Ask Nonprofit Organizations and Charities

Thinking of donating to a charitable organization this holiday season? Here are six questions to ask charities before you do.

The season of giving is upon us, and there are many charities in southeast Michigan that need your help. But how do families figure out which ones are the best charities to donate to? The Michigan Nonprofit Association and the Michigan Attorney General’s office have handy tips to help you evaluate your choices. Over the years, the groups have suggested considering these six questions to ask a nonprofit organization or charity 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 Internal Revenue Service. Click here to visit the IRS website 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 General’s charities hotlink or call 877-765-8388. You can even search charities online.

To learn even more about “Giving Wisely,” and to get more tips, visit the Michigan Attorney General’s webpage, too.

What are your family’s favorite charities and nonprofit organizations to donate to? Share your suggestions for other families in the comments!

This post was originally published in 2009 is updated regularly.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisement -


Breakfast with Santa Events in Metro Detroit and Ann Arbor

Where can families share holiday meals, like breakfast, with Santa Claus this Christmas season? Check out this list of local breakfast with Santa events.

Ready for What’s Next? A Guide for Parents of College-Bound Kids

College can be scary and confusing for both kids and parents. Here's a guide for parents on preparing their kids for what is yet to come.

What Every Kid Should Get for the Holidays This Year

When friends and family ask what your children want this year, experts suggest asking them to invest in your child's college future. It may not have the dazzle of the latest toy or gadget, but it will have value that lasts a lifetime.

Sue the T. Rex Makes a Stop at Cranbrook Institute of Science

See a replica of one of the world’s most incredible discoveries will leave little ones with the memory of a T.rex roar and the smell of dinosaur breath.

- Advertisement -