Special tax breaks proposed for Haitian earthquake relief donations
IRS can freeze 'Girls Gone Wild' money

Red Cross receipts for text donations

I'm in a charitable blogging mood today, in every sense of word, so here's another look at the outpouring of donations to help the folks in Haiti.

Soon after the earthquake struck last Tuesday, social media became not only a way for the world to find out about the tragedy, but also a mechanism to lend assistance.

Facebook launched a portal, the Global Disaster Relief page, for people who want to help. And Twitter was integral in spreading the word about donating relief funds via text message.

Yes, the staid old American Red Cross, which has been lending hands and more in disastrous times since 1881, partnered with Mobile Accord and the mGive Foundation to set up a system to collect donations by cell phone. The program is certain to be a worldwide case study on how to take fund raising to the next electronic level.

Texting financial aid: Customers of a dozen participating wireless carriers can text message the word "HAITI" to 90999 to donate $10 per message to support the Red Cross' Haiti relief efforts.

Donations will show up on your monthly wireless bill or can be debited from a prepaid account balance. Message and data rates may apply, but I suspect the thousands of technophiles with a giving streak won't care about the few extra dollars. They were just thrilled to be able to give, quickly and in a way that's second nature for them.

I also suspect that many, if not most, of the wireless donors are young and probably claiming the standard deduction when they file their tax returns. That means the tax deduction potential  of their text gift doesn't matter to them.

Some, though, probably will itemize. Legislation just introduced on Capitol Hill will give these donors the choice of tallying their charitable gifts either on their 2009 returns or waiting until next year to take the write-off.

Regardless of which tax year is applied, those folks definitely should count the $10 or $20 or whatever amount they gave to the Red Cross via text messages. And they also need to get a receipt for their donations.

Official receipts online: Not to worry. The American Red Cross is not only up to speed when it comes to relief efforts, the nonprofit knows its tax laws.

Go to www.mgive.org/receipt and enter your mobile number. It's best to go to the site via a connection where you also have access to a printer; you'll see why in a minute.

After you enter your cell number, you'll get a text message back that contains a PIN number. Still at the mGive site, type in that PIN and you'll be shown confirmation of all donations you made via the mobile phone number you entered.

And you then can you can print a receipt for your records that will satisfy the IRS if an auditor ever has questions about your Haiti donations.

Related posts:

Want to tell your friends about this blog post? Click the Tweet This or Digg This buttons below or use the Share This icon to spread the word via e-mail, Facebook and other popular applications. Thanks!


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Thanks for the info, Kay. I do itemize my deductions and wondered how they handled receipts. Now I know.

The comments to this entry are closed.