Established in 2012, #GivingTuesday is now entering its fifth year. Directly after the intrinsically commercial “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday,” #GivingTuesday was created to focus on charitable giving and the collaboration of socially conscious citizens. You may be wondering, “How can I become more philanthropic?” Start by making a list of your values and goals to help discover what you’re passionate about. Next, do some research to find organizations whose mission aligns with your interests. Here are a few resources we’ve identified along the way:
- Volunteermatch.org: Connect with charities by location or cause. Individuals, groups or corporations can use this service. Email notifications alert users of new opportunities that align with stated goals and values.
- CharityNavigator.org: Charity Navigator uses an unbiased rating system to evaluate their database of over 8,000 charities to connect donors with charities by location or cause. Ratings allow donors to make educated giving decisions based on Charity Navigator’s specified criteria.
- Local College Service and Volunteerism Center: If you are a college student, reach out to your volunteer center. They can match you with different organizations on campus or within your local college town.
- Clothing Donation: Go through your closet at the end of every season and make a bag of clothes that you don’t wear anymore. Drop them off at your local Goodwill or donation center and make sure to get a receipt.
How can you continue the #GivingTuesday spirit all year long?
- After attending a couple of events for a nonprofit in your area, ask how to get more involved. Drop into board meetings or sign up for their email subscription to stay informed about any upcoming volunteer/donation opportunities.
- Get together with a group of friends every month and choose a local event or charity to support. This could be a race, canned food drive, or volunteering at the local shelter. Participating with friends will help you to stay involved.
- Get your company involved in local philanthropies; see if your company organizes volunteer days, food drives, or donations.
The Tax Man Cometh
Another potential benefit to giving? Tax savings. Your charitable contributions may be deductible if you itemize your deductions on your tax return. Keep track of your donations and work with a tax professional to report accordingly.
For individuals subject to Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) from retirement accounts, the Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) is another option. Transferring an RMD directly to a charity can reduce Adjusted Gross Income for some individuals. This is an attractive option for individuals who don’t need the extra income or who aren’t itemizing deductions.
As always work with your fee-only financial planner and tax preparer to evaluate the best option for you.