The holiday “Giving Season”the time of year when many people make an extra effort to give to the organizations and causes they care aboutis officially underway. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you think about charitable gifts:

  • Give to what you’re passionate about. When you care deeply about an issue, you’ll be better able to judge for yourself whether the work of the organization meets your standard for progress and whether it’s worthy of your contribution.
  • Do a little research. Wondering about an organization you don’t know well? Consider making a visit. If you have the time, volunteering is a great way to get to know an organization from the inside out. Looking for organizations that do good work? Ask friends and colleagues who they are giving to and why - you’d be surprised how many people don’t do this. The more you know about what an organization does well, and how it does it, the more satisfaction you’ll get from your gift. And there are, of course, sites like Guidestar that can collect background information on nonprofits.
  • Know that administrative costs are not the whole picture. Organizations with high administrative costs should cause you to look at what they’re accomplishing closely. But it’s important to keep in mind that investment in administration is sometimes necessary to keep organizations ready to respond, to put staff into the community, or for any number of other legitimate reasons. For that reason, administrative costs should not be your sole guide on where to give.
  • Give local as well as national. Vermont has an incredible network of local organizations that together contribute to a strong social support system for our communities. Giving locally also gives you the opportunity to see the work of the organization firsthand.
  • Avoid charities that pressure you for donations. A legitimate organization will understand if you need time to learn more and to consider your decision carefully. In almost all cases, your contribution will be every bit as useful tomorrow as it is today.
  • The Vermont Charitable Contribution Tax Credit was enacted on July 2, 2018 and allows taxpayers to take a credit on their personal income taxes for contributions made to eligible charities during a given tax year. This is a credit for all Vermont taxpayers beginning with contributions made in January 2018. Learn more

Giving to disaster relief and recovery? Here are some additional tips.