DONATING

Choosing a charity to donate to

Look for established and recognised charities that are running legitimate disaster appeals. Registered charities will appear on the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) Charity Register.

Alternatively, the charity may display the ACNC's Tick of Charity Registration to show they are a registered charity.  

If you've been approached face-to-face, ask to see some identification and a copy of the charity's pledge form. These should contain:  

* the full name of the organisation

* the corporate registration number such as an Australian Business Number

* the business address

* the organisation's logo

If you recieve a call from someone claiming to represent a charity, do not give out your credit card or banking details. There will be other ways of donating if it's a legitimate charity.  

Ask about these options and make sure you check the validity of any website or social media page you're directed to.  

If you think there is something wrong, contact the charity directly and let them know your concerns. You can also contact the ACNC on 13 22 62.

Be wary of charity scams. To find out about the latest charity scams, see the ACCC's SCAMwatch charity scams webpage.

Check if the donation is tax deductible

A donation is only tax deductible if it is given to a charity that has been endorsed by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) as a deductible gift recipient (DGR) organisation. To receive a deduction the donation must be $2 or more and must be claimed in your tax return for the income year in which the donation was made. In some circumstances, you can elect to spread the tax deduction over five income years. For more information visit the ATO's gifts and fundraising webpage. You can check if an organisation is a DGR by visiting the Australian Business Register or phoning the ATO on 13 28 61.

Ways to donate

There are a number of ways you can donate to a charity.  

* One-off or ongoing - You may decide to make a regular, set donation or you may prefer making a one-off donation following a particular fundraising campaign or an urgent need, like a natural disaster.

* Workplace giving - You can support a charity through automatic deductions from your salary. If your employer has a workplace giving scheme your donation can be deducted from your pay and sent directly to your preferred charity.

* Leave a bequest in your will - Another way of donating is to leave a bequest in your will. Contact the charity directly to discuss your plans.

* Get involved - Instead of a cash donation, you could contribute to your favourite charity by donating goods, your time or even your skills or expertise

How to complain about a charity

You can complain about a charity to the relevant state or territory regulator. To find the regulator in your state visit the ATO: State and territory government requirements - fundraising. You can also complain to the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission if the charity is registered, see the ACNC: Raise a concern about a charity webpage. Australian charities working in the area of overseas aid, who get funding from AusAID, must be members of the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), and must adhere to the ACFID Code of Conduct. For more information about the code, including its signatories and how to register a complaint, see the ACFID: Code of Conduct webpage.  

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding has become a popular way to raise money for charities and social causes. Crowdfunding projects are usually promoted using social media and word-of-mouth. If you've heard about a project or cause you'd like to support, make sure you check the legitimacy of any website or social media page you're directed to. Remember to carefully read the terms and conditions on the crowdfunding site before signing up. Don't give your credit card details unless you're comfortable that the website, the project and its owners are legitimate. Visit our banking and credit scams page to find out what to do if you think your credit card details have been compromised or you think you've been scammed. See the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission's webpage crowdfunding and charities for more information about supporting or running a crowdfunding project.

Crowdfunding is different from crowd-sourced funding (also called equity crowd funding or crowd-sourced funding of shares), which is used by start-ups and small and medium-sized companies to raise money from the public to finance their business. In exchange investors receive securities in the form of shares.

Is crowdfunding tax deductible?

Some crowdfunding websites do not have Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) status so you will not be able to claim a tax deduction for the money you pledge.  

However, the project creator may have DGR status. If so, it is up to them to provide you with a tax-deductible receipt if you request one.

Donating to a charity or cause you really believe in can be rewarding, but you need to be careful that you're not being taken advantage of.

*Source: ASIC's MoneySmart