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When giving to help Haiti, be sure to check your charity of choice
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How to help
To be a part of the North Georgia Community Foundation’s Disaster Relief effort: Mail a contribution to NGCF, 615 Oak St. Suite 1300, Gainesville, GA 30501; note “Haiti Relief” in the memo line. You can also contribute online.

To research charities on your own:
Use the Better Business Bureau or use GuideStar to find detailed information about nonprofit organizations. Many charities are also required to register with the state Secretary of State’s office. Research charities on the Secretary of State’s Web site.

If a tax deduction is important to you:
Make sure the organization has a tax-deductible, “501(c)” status with the IRS. The IRS Web site has a searchable database of organizations eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions.
Make sure you get a receipt that shows the amount of your contribution and states that the contribution is tax deductible.
IRS rules concerning receipts have changed significantly in recent years; be sure you understand them completely. Read them here.

Other relief efforts
Clinton Bush Haiti Fund

Red Cross

Salvation Army

As an outpouring of sympathy for the victims of the devastating earthquake in Haiti turns to a flood of donations to charities and outreach organizations, the North Georgia Community Foundation has pledged to research those agencies for local residents who want to help.

“Our donors, a lot of them, look to us to do research for them and to be sure that they’re not giving to something that might be inappropriate or might not be what it says it is,” said Jim Mathis, president of the North Georgia Community Foundation. “We’ve always done that for our donors and we felt that would be a good service to offer at this point in time.”

The community foundation has had a disaster relief fund since 1998 and used it after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, Mathis said.

On Friday, after receiving a number of calls from local people who wanted to assist with relief efforts in Haiti, Mathis said the foundation decided to activate the fund so residents can contribute and be sure their donations are going to a charity that will help Haitians.

The Red Cross estimates 45,000 to 50,000 people were killed in Tuesday’s cataclysmic earthquake. As many as half of the buildings in the capital of Port-au-Prince and other hard-hit areas were damaged or destroyed, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp issued a news release Friday urging residents to research charities before contributing. The Better Business Bureau and Guide Star offer detailed information about nonprofit organizations.

Many charities are also required to register with the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, and their information is available on the Secretary of State’s Web site.

“During a time when so many want to help provide for those in need, it is crucial to ensure the consumer’s donations are received by legitimate organizations,” Kemp said in the statement.

The North Georgia Community Foundation uses the Guide Star program to research charities, and is taking recommendations from the Council on Foundations for suitable agencies where the foundation can send contributions.

Mathis said anyone who wants to be a part of the community foundation’s disaster relief effort can mail a check with “Haiti Relief” written in the memo line to the foundation or donate online at North Georgia Community Foundation.

Mathis hopes to begin making contributions to agencies next week.

“We don’t want to hold it long, because they need it now,” Mathis said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.