Your family members and closest friends might already be on your holiday shopping list, but when it comes to your community, what gift are you giving this year?
When you contribute to registered charities, a little giving can go a long way. Most charitable contributions are tax deductible, so they’re good for your wallet and your soul. Here are a few tips for making the most of your charitable giving.
Make Cash Gifts To Causes You Care About
In order to claim a tax deduction for your charitable donations, it’s important to follow the IRS’s rules. For example, “if you donate more than $250 cash, the charity must acknowledge the gift in writing,” says Harrine Freeman, a financial consultant based in Washington, D.C. “If you donate less, you will need a receipt, canceled check or credit-card statement.”
Give Away Used Goods You No Longer Need
You can also donate possessions, such as used electronics, furniture, clothing and other items to shelters or charities like Goodwill, which will resell such goods and use the proceeds to fund programs that benefit the underprivileged. Even old cars can be donated to charity: Under IRS guidelines, your car may be eligible for a tax deduction of its “fair market value.”
Volunteer For Local Organizations
Your time is valuable to nonprofit organizations in your community. Search VolunteerMatch for local volunteering opportunities, such as gardening, cooking or helping at an animal shelter. Although you won’t get a tax receipt for your time, you may deduct any associated expenses, such as gas costs or the cost of supplies that you purchase for your volunteer work, says Freeman.
Whether you’re seeking a worthy charity that matches your values or you want to verify a charity’s nonprofit status, GuideStar can help you find the best places to give. No matter how you choose to contribute this season, you’re sure to get a little something in return.
10 Easy Ways To Give Back This Holiday Season
- Collect non-perishable food items and donate them to your local food bank.
- Put food on the table for a family that doesn’t have the means to do so. Not sure where to start? Family-to-family.org can match you with a household in need.
- Donate your old coats to a clothing recycler.
- The National Coalition for the Homeless offers a number of ways for volunteers to combat homelessness by serving food at shelters, building homes, or offering job training.
- Donate blood at your local blood bank.
- Visit the Department of Veteran Affairs to find out how you can thank the Veterans who put their lives on the line for our safety.
- Adopt a pet from an animal shelter or rescue organization.
- Bring a sense of family to someone who doesn’t have one by volunteering at your local nursing home, where more than half the residents never get visitors, according to the Senior Source.
- Pledge a donation to a charity of your choice.
- Share a meal with a lonely person in need this holiday season when you sign up with Meals on Wheels’ food-delivery program.
Giving back doesn’t have to be costly or time-consuming. A small, random act of kindness can go a long way. If you receive or witness a kind gesture this holiday season, pay it forward and continue to spread the giving spirit.
GEICO is focused on giving back. Learn how our associates contribute to their communities.
How do you give back at this time of year? Tell us about it below.
By Kathryn Hawkins and Danielle Grimes