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The following is the 15th in a series of Odessa File columns by Jim Reed, managing partner of the Ziff Law Firm, regarding news of a legal nature that readers might find timely in this ever-changing world.
By Jim Reed
The holiday requests for donations are rolling in. All of us have received mails or emails urgently asking for our help and wondered, "How do they spend the money? Am I really helping who I want to help?"
Once we donate, we can never really know how the money is being spent. But online research can help us select the best managed and most effective charities.
Here are some of the best resources for Odessa File readers:
To check on charities in our region:
Charities in New York State: Click on "Donors" on the New York Attorney General's CharitiesNYS.com and there are links to lots of great information. You can search the registry, file a complaint, and do much more.
Charities in Pennsylvania: The Department of State's Charities site also has a search option for giving in the state and a link to complain forms.
To check on charities from the national perspective:
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All of the sites offer great advice to donors. Some of the highlights:
--Keep a record of your donations and monitor your bank and credit cards to be sure you're only charged what you agreed to pay. Even after that first payment, keep monitoring to make sure you're not signed up to make recurring donations.
--Some scammers try to trick you into paying them by thanking you for a donation that you never made.
--Some scammers use names that sound a lot like the names of real charities. This is one reason it pays to do some research before giving.
--Verify tax-exempt status. If you're not sure whether donations to a particular charity are tax-deductible (don't assume they are), confirm a group's status by checking with the group or by going to the IRS website.
Thanks for reading,
Photo in text: Attorney Jim Reed.
To see Jim Reed's first column, click here.
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869