The following is a summary of a full article at Charity Navigator:
A gift to a qualified charitable organization may entitle you to a charitable contribution deduction against your income tax if you itemize deductions.
If the gifts are deductible, the actual cost of the donation is reduced by your tax savings.
- A contribution to a qualified charity is deductible in the year in which it is paid.
- Most, but not all, charitable organizations qualify for a charitable contribution deduction.
- You can deduct contributions only if they are made to or for the use of a qualified recipient.
- An organization could lose its charity status if it devotes a substantial part of its activities to formulating propaganda or otherwise trying to influence legislation.
- There are limits to how much you can deduct, but they're very high.
- Rules exist for non-cash donations.
- Remember to document.
- Organizations to Which You Can Give and Deduct Your Donation:
- Churches and other religious organizations;
- Tax exempt educational organizations;
- Tax exempt hospitals and certain medical research organizations;
- A government unit, such as a state or a political subdivision of a state;
- Publicly supported organizations such as a community chest;
- Certain private foundations that distribute all contributions they receive to public charities within two-and-a-half months after the end of the foundation's fiscal year;
- A private operating foundation which pools all of its donations in a common fund;
- Certain membership organizations that rely on the general public for more than a third of their contributions.