How to donate to help victims of the Israel-Gaza crisis

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People looking to help those affected by the Israel-Gaza crisis can consider donating to charities working on the ground.

Here’s what to know.

Verify charities to avoid scams

People want to make sure they’re giving their money to legitimate charities that are making a difference, experts say.

To that end, the Federal Trade Commission recommends searching the internet for the name of any charity you’re considering donating to along with the words “complaint,” “review,” “rating,” “fraud” and “scam.”

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“If you find bad reviews, it might be best to find another organization,” the FTC said.

You should also be able to learn more about the charity, and its process of giving, on its website. For research, the FTC recommends using CharityWatch or Charity Navigator.

Look for organizations ‘with a clear plan’

Laurie Styron, CEO and executive director of CharityWatch, said her organization looks for charities that already have a presence in the impacted region and a history of helping people there.

“If it’s not an organization with a clear plan, your donation could just sit there,” Styron said.

The folks at CharityWatch have put together a list of top-rated charities providing aid during the Israel-Gaza crisis. The list includes Doctors Without Borders, which has had medical programs in Gaza for more than 20 years, Styron said. “So they’re going to be able to mobilize quickly.”

There are a lot of innocent people suffering.

Laurie Styron

CEO of CharityWatch

Another charity on their list is the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, which is currently providing a wide range of emergency services to victims in Israel.

Meanwhile, Charity Navigator’s list of charities focusing on the Israel-Gaza crisis includes only organizations that are at least three years old, show a three- or four-star rating and have a track record of positive results in their region, among other requirements. Their list includes American Friends of Magen David Adom, known as the Israeli Red Cross, and the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, which works specifically in Gaza.

“There is a very big need,” said Shlomi Zidky, CEO of Round Up, a fundraising platform that has also gathered a network of verified charities helping victims in Israel.

Aid organizations are “the main lifelines for people,” Zidky said, adding that they are getting people food, medical and psychological support and other vital resources.

Create a plan for giving

Many donors may be unsure where to put their money of late with the barrage of violence and natural disasters, including the Ukraine war and the hurricane in Afghanistan, Styron said.

“The more people impacted, the more overwhelmed people become and they can get desensitized and not act,” Styron said.

That can be especially true when an issue is politically-fraught, like with the Israel-Gaza crisis.

“What people need to remember is that whatever side you align yourself with, there are a lot of innocent people suffering,” she said. “Give what you can afford.”

Donations may reduce taxable income

Eligible donations can be deducted from your adjusted gross income if you itemize deductions on your taxes.

For 2023, the standard deduction is $13,850 for single filers or $27,700 for married couples filing together.

You either claim the standard deduction or your total itemized deductions, including charitable gifts, medical expenses, state and local taxes and more — whichever is more.

Since most filers take the standard deduction, you’re less likely to see a tax benefit from smaller gifts to charity. But it depends on your total combined itemized deductions.

— Additional reporting by CNBC’s Kate Dore.

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