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It pays to be wise when giving to charities
Charity » These tips can help you avoid scams, make best use of time and money.

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Texting for dollars • Lots of charitable causes are using text-message appeals on cellphones. To ensure that texted donations are safe, the BBB this year teamed up with the Mobile Giving Foundation.

Use MobileGiving.org to confirm donations and get a tax receipt. (MobileGiving works only with one-time donations that appear on your cellphone bill.)

At a glance

Giving wisely

Websites with tips on charitable donations

Mobile Giving Foundation » A Better Business Bureau partnership, it gives consumers how-tos on safe, secure donating via mobile phone texts, at http:/// www.mobilegiving.org

GivingTuesday » A campaign by the United Nations Foundation and 2,500 community groups to inspire consumers to donate time and money to local/national nonprofits, at http://www.givingtuesday.org

Donor tips and charity reviews/ratings » CharityNavigator.org, CharityWatch.org, GuideStar.org, GreatNonProfits.org and BBB Wise Giving Alliance (http://www.bbb.org/us/Wise-Giving)

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Keep records • If you want a tax deduction, keep a receipt, credit card statement or canceled check. Donations of $250 or more require an official receipt from the charity.

Be aware of the difference between "tax-exempt" (which means the charity doesn’t have to pay state or federal taxes) and "tax-deductible," which means your donation can be deducted. If a group says it has "tax-exempt" status or a "tax ID number," that doesn’t mean your donation is deductible.

Give from the heart • A donation doesn’t have to come straight from your checkbook. Charities need your time, too. Volunteer at a food bank, dishing out meals. Give books to your local library or seniors’ home. Donate new diapers or formula to a crisis nursery.

There are so many reasons for seasonal giving. Find the cause that fits your budget and passions, then give what you can.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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