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UF/IFAS Extension: Give Generously, but Carefully

SANFORD, Fla. – The holidays are the time of year for giving, especially for those who want to get the tax benefits of donating to your favorite charity. But a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension agent cautions residents to do some homework before they give.

“It’s important to visit some online sites and check out the charities to whom you want to donate because sometimes the organization is spending more of your money on administrative costs than on the actual issue,” said Julie England, a family and consumer sciences agent with UF/IFAS Extension Seminole County.

Another issue is fielding calls from random people asking for donations to a charity. “They may not work for the charity itself, but may be part of a call center,” England said. “Clarify what charity the caller is collecting for and how they are compensated. If in doubt, ask them to mail you more information before donating.”

England suggests doing research before you give. She recommends Charity Navigator (https://www.charitynavigator.org), which investigates organizations.

Before you give:

  • Tax law reform in 2018: The standard deduction has increased, so not as many people will itemize deductions. That means the number of people who may be able to deduct charitable donations has been reduced, England said.
  • For large contributions, you may find it helpful to discuss methods of transfer with your financial adviser.
  • Know what you can afford to give. “It may make more sense to your overall budget to contribute smaller amounts throughout the year instead of waiting to donate a large amount later in the year,” England said.
  • If you have children, involve them in the process of choosing and donating, England said. Explain to them the importance of helping others and contributing to causes that they are interested in, she said.
  • Give locally to organizations with which you are familiar.

Wherever you choose to donate, make sure that organization uses your money wisely, England said. “There are many worthy causes that appreciate and need donations,” she said. “Do your research and follow your heart. Consider causes that are important to you and/or help locally.”

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The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at ifas.ufl.edu and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.

 

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