DURHAM -- It's the time of year when people begin cleaning out closets, making room for holiday gifts they will receive and seeking a tax deduction for donations made prior to the end of the year. But donor, beware! Although the GCF Donation Centers & Stores utilize donated items to support free programs they offer to people in eastern North Carolina and around the world, not all thrift shops and clothing collection boxes support charities.
"If you are donating intending to help a good cause, it pays to research the organizations to whom you are giving your goods," said Steve Snyderman, director of the GCF Community Foundation. "There are many legitimate charities that accept donations and put them to good use. On the other hand there are organizations that would have you believe that your donation is helping a good cause when, in fact, it is just making money for a for-profit operation."
He cited the proliferation of clothing collection boxes, claiming to support charitable organizations, that can be found in many shopping center and convenience store parking lots. "The reality is that they may give a very small percentage of what they earn to a legitimate charity, but the remainder of the earnings are making some people very rich.
"For some, dropping off clothing at these boxes is convenient and they don't care whether or not the proceeds are going toward a good cause. However for those who want to insure that their donations are being used wisely, do your homework," Snyderman advised. "Also, remember that legitimate organizations will provide donors with a receipt at the time of their donation to be used for their taxes -- a service not provided at a clothing collection box."
The website for the North Carolina Secretary of State is a good resource when investigating charities. Go to http://www.secstate.state.nc.us/ and click on Charitable Solicitations for information on organizations that operate thrift stores or clothing collection boxes.