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The Wright Perspective℠

Social Commentary from the C-Suite to Main Street℠

A Blog by Gary Wright II

Is a charity legit? How to help when you have no money.

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

There are so many people out there exploiting the situation in Haiti that I wanted to share the way to see if a charity is legit or not.

For a donation to be tax-deductible, the company must have 501(c)3 status with the IRS. The IRS maintains a list of 501(c)3 organizations and I strongly suggest researching a charity before you give them a donation. In addition to the list of 501(c)3's, there is a database of those companies who have lost their status. The database of good companies is updated quarterly, but the revocation list is updated almost daily. Just because a company is organized as a non-profit does not mean they are 501(c)3.

If you run across a fake charity, please report them using the IRS form 3949. You can do so anonymously.

To research the charity:

  1. Go to (it doesn't work without the www).
  2. Click on the CHARITIES / NON-PROFITS menu.
  4. Publication 78 is the official list of charities.

Here is a direct link to the search page:

"In addition, you may verify an organization's tax-exempt status and eligibility to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions by asking to see an organization's IRS letter recognizing it as tax-exempt. You may also confirm an organization's status by calling the IRS (toll-free) at 1-877-829-5500."

Another important factor in choosing a charity is the percentage of donations that are used for "administration costs" - there are several well-known charities that only have a small percentage of donations that actually make it to the people in need.

How can I help a charity if I don't have money to donate?

With the economic downturn, the charities are having a very hard time raising money. My favorite charity (Muscular Dystrophy Association) has been forced to close over twenty clinics, including the one nearest me. They also have had to eliminate over 120 positions.

Many people have medical equipment they no longer use. Durable medical equipment is very expensive, some wheelchairs are over $50,000, so every little bit donated goes a long way. MDA has an "equipment loan closet" where they give the items to the families that can't afford them. If you have items you no longer use, you can donate it to MDA or to your local nursing home.

Many charities rely on volunteers, so they really appreciate it when someone volunteers their time to help them.

The people on fixed income are having to make very tough decisions as the price of fuel and food has sky-rocketed - yet they have not had any cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) to their income. No one should have to choose between food or medicine. The economy is no where near recovery yet, but if we all work together, we can make it through these tough times.

Best regards,

-- Gary Wright II

Reader Comments

Tuesday Miles - NOW THATS WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT, !!!!!!!!!!!! Your Da Man Gary, and this is a way to pay it forward, ( HUGE HUGE WAY ) to me this is so helpful, and the time you took to give others very important information is a bonus, and a great big Thank You .... I have come across different places who says they are with a chairity and I question, Are Ya Really Sure !!!!

But one of my most heart felt information you wrote up in the blog is the part about giving to the MDA Assc. I have donated some wheels chairs, to them and to the Cerebral Palsy Foundation, and I tell you all they people there really need them and nothing better than placing a smile on there face, Hey they now have transpertation.

Big hugs Gary Thanks

Tuesday Miles ........

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