Financial Resource Center


Give Safely and Guilt-Free this Holiday Season

by Laura Varela / December 5th, 2019

The holidays are synonymous with giving. Not surprisingly, it’s the time when most charities make their big push for a year-end boost to their bottom lines.

Unfortunately, there are many fraudsters and phony charity organizations hoping to take advantage of potential givers. To protect yourself, ask a few simple questions and do a quick online lookup to determine if a charity is legitimate before you make your donation.

Ask about the charity's history, location, and tax ID number—if the answers seem fishy or vague, take a pass. If someone asks you for money in person, look up their organization on your cellphone before deciding to donate. The FTC’s Consumer Information website has more tips to help you avoid scammers.

You know you won’t be able to help every organization that asks for your donation. To help you give wisely and avoid feeling guilty for declining someone, create a giving plan.

  • Decide how much you want to give—either a dollar amount or percentage of income. Then choose an organization.
  • Pick a charity that aligns with your beliefs and will spend your donation responsibly. The website Give Well  analyzes thousands of charities and provides information about their pros and cons.
  • Decide how often you want to give and then stick to your plan. By budgeting your generosity, you'll know at tax time exactly how much you've given and to whom.
  • When asked for a donation by other organizations, simply explain you've already given another way.

It would be nice to be able to give to all your favorite charities, but not if it hurts your financial well-being. Give what is within your budget and do a little research before sending your donation. This way, you’ll rest easy knowing you have helped a worthy cause without making yourself a charity case.

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