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Charitable giving should be encouraged. Before giving to a charity, however, it is important to ascertain that the charity is what it purports to be.

The end of the year tends to be the most charitable of times, both for the sake of the holidays and for the sake of end-of-year tax moves. However, now that we have officially crossed the halfway point in the year (and then some) it is not too early to start your 2013 charitable planning.

To help prime the pump regarding your charitable giving goals, consider two recent articles courtesy of Forbes.

The first article is titled “Give Your Property To Charity…” and it deals with some real life (and largely football-based) examples to make the case for charitable giving largely to the exclusion of leaving an inheritance to your heirs. While that might be something of an extreme position for many, it is not without merit for others. Regardless, whether you give a little each year to charity or are intending to give it all to charity upon your passing, there is good reason to do your due diligence.

Following on the heels of the first article, the second is appropriately titled “…But Make Sure It’s A Charity.” Fact: not all charities are alike in form, even if they are all good at heart. In reality, some charities can be less “charity” than advertised, either in terms of their correct legal formation or in their bona fide charitable substance. If you give to larger national charities, then this likely is less of an issue. On the other hand, many smaller charities operate solely on the good will and donated time of their volunteers. Consequently, these “mom and pop” charities may not have been formed correctly or may operate in such a way as to threaten any possibility of tax-favorable treatment.

Then again, bigger charities cost money and many rely on professionals instead of volunteers. As a result, these professionals soak up a higher and higher percentage of overhead, and sometimes without demonstrable effect.

In short, there are many factors to weigh when it comes to charitable giving. As these bookend Forbes articles illustrate, it is important to examine both your own charitable goals and the charities themselves before making gifts large or small.

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