Check Up On Charities Before Donating

Nonprofits rely on the spirit of giving, as well as imminent tax write-offs, to fill their coffers during the holiday season. Both worthy and less-than-reputable organizations step up their donation drives, and it can be tough to separate efficient charities from scams.

Here are a few steps to make sure your giving isn’t for naught.

* Double-check the charity’s name. In many cases, low-class nonprofits will name themselves something similar to well-known organizations in hopes of gleaning some of their goodwill. Not to name names, but if you plan on donating to, say, the Wounded Warrior Project, make sure it’s the genuine article and not a wasteful organization with a similar-sounding name.

* Look up its financial forms. Sites such as GuideStar round up tax filings from various organizations, letting you see how much they spend on administrative costs, salaries and program services.

Check them out on the Better Business Bureau. The BBB evaluates charities and lets you browse complaints and reviews. A bunch of red flags indicates you’d be better off donating your money elsewhere.

Previously: Holiday Scams: Research Charities Before Handing Over Your Cash