Charity Matters: Ways to Give Wisely

During the holidays, your thoughts may naturally turn to giving, not only to family and friends, but to those in need.  Whether it’s donating your time, money, or other resources, here are some ideas to help you develop a charitable giving strategy that can last all year long.1

Choosing a Charity

There are more than 1 million charities in the U.S. today, so if you are wondering about where you should give, websites such as Charity NavigatorPhilanthropedia and the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance provide evaluations and ratings of nonprofits, including how much of your money will be directed to the charity’s cause. According to the experts, at least 70% of an organization’s funds should go toward their mission, rather than administrative costs or high executive salaries. But don’t look at overhead alone when deciding where to give. Keep in mind that smaller, community-based charities may have higher administrative costs than larger organizations. Also, when you give locally, you can learn about donating your time through volunteering opportunities. And to make your dollars really stretch, consider partnering with a workplace charitable giving program. Many companies today match their employees’ donations. You can also give smaller amounts regularly through automatic payroll deductions.

Giving Your Time 

Volunteering during the weeks of Thanksgiving and Christmas gets so popular that slots fill up fast, so make sure to check with your local charities to see if and when help is needed. Consider getting involved in short- or long-term opportunities throughout the year via VolunteerMatch, which can match your interests and concerns with a variety of organizations. For instance, if you are passionate about animals, the arts, or advocacy and human rights, there are plenty of ways to get involved with likeminded charities. And if you have particular skills such as construction, grant writing or cooking, your talents will be put to good use.

Donating Goods

Toward year’s end, people begin cleaning out their closets and donate household items, furniture and clothing. Make sure that clothes are in good condition, never ripped or stained, and that household appliances are in working order. Charitable organizations that take donations offer very helpful guidelines on their websites about what they will and won’t accept, including things like mattresses, computers or automobiles. To get a tax break on your deductions, read these tips from the IRS.

Invest in a Charity by Giving Stock

Not just for the wealthy, donating shares of a stock you own that is performing well is a good way to give a sizeable amount to a charity you believe in, get a tax deduction and avoid paying potential capital gains. It works like this: You bought some shares of ABC stock 10 years ago for $1,000. Today, your shares are worth $2,000. By donating the shares to your favorite charity, you can claim $2,000 as a tax deduction and avoid paying capital gains tax, which will vary depending on your income bracket. For more information about this topic, reach out to a SchoolsFirst FCU financial advisor for advice.2

Shop to Give

One way to spend wisely this holiday season is to shop.  Yes, shop! For every item you buy—such as eyeglasses, shoes, books or blankets—these “buy one, give one” companies will donate an item to those in need.  To find a list of companies and the worthy causes they support, visit ShopWith Meaning.org.

1Please consult a qualified tax professional for tax advice on your specific situation.

SFFCU does not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.

2 Securities sold, advisory services are offered through CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI), member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker/dealer and investment advisor. CBSI is under;contract with SchoolsFirst FCU to make securities available to Members. Not NCUA/NCUSIF/FDIC insured, may lose value, no financial institution guarantee. Not a deposit of any financial institution. CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. is a registered broker/dealer in all fifty states of the United States of America.

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