The IRS says that taxpayers who contribute to the fund-raising activities of charitable organizations often do not receive accurate information about the deductibility of their contributions.

Common fund-raising activities in which part or all of a contribution may not be deductible include charity balls, banquets, auctions, athletic events and solicitations for membership when merchandise or benefits are given in return for a payment of a specified dollar amount.Taxpayers contributing to a qualified charitable organization and receiving something of value in return (such as a ticket to a sporting event), may deduct only the amount that is more than the value of the benefit they receive. If taxpayers pay more than fair market value for merchandise, goods, or services, the amount paid that is more than the value of the item received may be a charitable contribution.

To assist taxpayers in determining whether their contributions are deductible, the IRS has issued Publication 1391, "Deductibility of Payments Made to Charities Conducting Fund Raising Events."