Odd as it may seem, the answer to that very good question starts out with what not to do.
Many of us in Brooklyn live in communities where we know people, and there's a sense of trust born of that local, almost quaint, vibe. But when it comes to giving money to good causes, look before you leap. Many people have the best of intentions when collecting money for a good cause. But as a donor, it's smart to check out the details, even when a friend asks for a modest contribution.
Nine Do's & Don'ts for Charitable Giving in Brooklyn
Here are nine "do's" and "don'ts" of charitable giving for Brooklyn residents.
- Don't let your heartstrings open your purse strings: Do a little research before you contribute, no matter how moved you may be.
- Don't make contributions in cash if someone comes knocking on your apartment door. Use checks or a credit card.
- Don't respond to callers who want money fast, who call frequently, who make you feel guilty or who otherwise use high-pressured tactics.
- Don't fall for online donation scams.
- Don't give sizable sums in cash to strangers who represent organizations you've never heard of before, even if they ask in the most charmingly authentic Brooklyn accent.
- Don't give money to someone who says they will bundle it and forward it to another entity.
- Don't assume that because someone looks like they ought to be doing the right thing—for instance, clergy—they are doing the right thing; have a healthy curiosity and ask questions before you give. That goes for politicians, too. (Brooklyn is hardly immune to scams run by seemingly upright citizens.)
- Don't make a contribution to an organization that is not a registered charity if you hope to take a tax deduction for your contribution.
- Don't disclose personal or financial information. "Never give your Social Security number, credit card or debit card number or other personal identifying information in response to an unsolicited charitable request, especially over the phone," advises the New York State Consumer Protection Board.
Good News: Charitable Donations Count as Tax DeductionsCharitable contributions to US registered non-profit organizations are tax-deductible, within limitations set by the Internal Revenue Service. And, if one is contributing to humanitarian relief in foreign nations, that too is tax-deductible, as long as the contribution is given to an American non-profit organization. For more about these details, see www.irs.gov.