Is my cash donation to Haiti earthquake relief efforts applicable to my 2009 tax returns?For those of you who wish to donate, there are four ways you can make your donation to the American Red Cross:
Yes. Charitable contributions made before March 1, 2010, in response to the Haiti earthquake can be claimed as itemized charitable deductions on your 2009 tax return instead of waiting to claim these on your 2010 tax return (see The House of Representatives bill H.R. 4462 passed 1/20/10).
1) By check: write your check to "The American Red Cross" and in the memo line specify "Haiti relief." That way you can be assured that your donation will be directed as you wish. You will receive a receipt and a thank you card from the Red Cross confirming your donation. Mail your check either to your local chapter, which can be found on the ARC's website. You can go here and print off a sheet to mail in with it toDue to the overwhelming support of the American people, the ARC has partnered with some retailers to be official donation sites, such as Walgreen's, Costco, Walmart, Riteway, Lowe's, and Bank of America. (Click here for details on these and other official donation sites.)
American Red Cross
PO Box 4002018
Des Moines, IA 50340-2018
2) By phone: 1-800-RED-CROSS (You can also phone in your donation to your local chapter.)
3) Online using the ARC's secure site (click here).
4) By text message: you can text "HAITI" to 90999. Your cellphone company will add $10 to your bill, text messaging fees apply. You can send several texts. I tried it today, and each time I promptly received a message back asking me to confirm the donation by replying "yes" or "no." When I replied "yes," I promptly got a message that thanked me, but also offered me the chance to still cancel. Seemed rather fail-proof. (Click here for texting details.)
If you choose not to donate to the Red Cross, I would caution you to choose your charity of choice carefully. Be sure you donate to an organization that is reputable and highly respected. Many con artists crawl out of the woodwork in sad times such as these. Be aware, too, that corruption runs rampant in Haiti. Avoid those groups that will just give the money to Haiti without accounting for it.
I have a friend who works closely with an orphanage just outside of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. She makes several trips a year and is involved in improving the orphanage and school. There are also plans in the works for a clinic to be built. The mission is called "House of Hope" and, if you're looking for perhaps a more direct, more personal, and hands-on relief effort, such a venture might be what you're looking for.
Compassion International has many projects and children in Haiti and is in desperate need of donations. I have sponsored children through CI for over 20 years, firmly believing in the integrity and stewardship of the organization.