If you are approached by someone claiming that they are a non-profit, asking for a donation, you can and should check them out before donating. If you concerned about the cause, legitimacy, and tax-deductibility of your donation, ask if they are from a 501 (c) 3 Non-profit. If they look like they don’t know what you are talking about, that will be a clue, that your donation will not be tax deductible. If they say they are not sure, and you really want to donate to their cause, you can always check the IRS Website, and look for Publication 78, which has a searchable database of approved 501 (c) 3 Non-profits. If they are listed, then you can check their 990 form. 990 forms are required of every non-profit, which list their name, address, phone, mission, chief officers, total budget, grants received, and money expended, among others. You can use the Foundation Center’s link – 990 Finder to read the filings of both 501 (c) 3 non-profits, and private foundation grantmakers. You’ll want to donate to those non-profits who maintain a low administrative ratio. If they are spending more than 20% on administrative costs, that means for every dollar you give, $ .80 or less is being used to serve those in their mission statement.