Thursday, November 13, 2008

Indonesian charity FAQs

Hard to believe, but 2008 is fast drawing to a close. And for American taxpayers, that means you want to log any charitable contributions by the end of the year, in order to claim them by the April 15 filing deadline. If not, you may have to wait until 2010 to see any tax benefits.

Don't just throw your money down a hole, though, but be rigorous about who receives your giving. To evaluate Indonesian charities that might be worth some of your largesse, check out sites like Charity Navigator, which has a rating system based on criteria like what percentage of donations are gobbled up by administrative costs. Plug 'Indonesia' into the search engine on the home page, and you get a slate of 40 nonprofits to sift through.

Some of the five-star winners that have operations helping Indonesia's 230-million-plus people: The Red Cross, Direct Relief International, Doctors Without Borders, the International Rescue Committee, Unicef, World Vision, and Save the Children, among others.

Charity Navigator isn't the only nonprofit watchdog, though: GuideStar and Charity Watch perform similar services. Granted, it might be a very tough time to give, considering the trillions in wealth that the housing bust and stock-market meltdown have wiped away. But if you can actually save lives for only a few dollars, it's hard to justify not giving.

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