As the year comes to a close, charitable gifts are on people’s minds for two reasons:  holidays are the time of sharing good cheer and giving; and year end tax considerations.

From time to time, donors have questions about nonprofit charities.  There are a few ways that donors can make sure that the charities they give to are legitimate charities that are doing good, cost-effective, impactful work.

Your local community foundation is a fount of information on community issues, and the charities best-positioned to fill community needs.  There are over 800 charities in Chester County alone, 8,000 in the Greater Philadelphia region, and over 1.5 million in the United States.  The Chester County Community Foundation can help donors to discern which charities meet their criteria for giving, including charities located outside of Chester County.  Contact the Community Foundation at 610/696-4383 or info@chescocf.org.

Also, in Pennsylvania, every charity that solicits donations must register with the Pennsylvania Department of State.  Phone the Department of State at 1-800-732-0999 to learn whether a charity is registered, and what portion of the charity’s revenues are spent on programs and services, as compared to fundraising and administration.

There is also a free website called “GuideStar” which is a national database of nonprofit organizations.  On this website (www.guidestar.org/) donors will find the tax returns (IRS Form 990) of charities throughout the United States along with the charity’s mission, program and service information.

This information is provided as a community service by the Chester County Community Foundation, a nonprofit organization located in West Chester.  The Community Foundation’s mission is to connect people who care with causes that matter, so their legacy makes a difference.

The Chester County Community Foundation urges donors to give generously and wisely.  For additional details, contact the Community Foundation at 610/696-4383 or visit the website at www.chescocf.org.