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Make Your Giving Count

October 18, 2018 GMT

Charitable support is not just for millionaires. Everyone can be a philanthropist (meaning “a desire to benefit humanity”). Philanthropy is about a person’s attitude toward giving. It involves both passion and planning.

Giving money away to support nonprofit organizations might seem easy. To be certain your giving really matters, there are a number of considerations.

Giving pro actively is a way to separate the wheat from the chaff. It seems that everyone receives a lot of mail and phone calls asking for money for one worthy cause or another. But do you have to respond? Turning off completely isn’t satisfying either to those who truly appreciate how important nonprofits are in today’s world and how they provide services and societal benefits that could not happen otherwise. Receiving unsolicited items does not create an obligation to give. Think about what you want your gifts to accomplish, and that probably isn’t a pile of address labels or trinkets.

Giving with impact happens when you choose your “top 3” or “top 5″ organizations to support that reflect your personal values. Do you want to make a difference locally? Regionally? Nationally? Internationally? Will it be in support of your faith? Or education? Or health? The arts? The environment? Social services? World peace? (Or others?) Give generously so that you can see the benefits of program growth. If you are considering a large gift, target your money for a special purpose.

Giving time, when possible, also permits you to evaluate an organization more closely. Become a volunteer to see how the mission you feel is important is carried out on a daily basis. Your service will help the organization accomplish more, just as your gifts do.

Giving smart means you are aware of the federal income tax deduction you will receive and how it will affect your taxes for the year. Some whose annual gifts are not large enough to itemize double up their charitable gifts to increase their deduction. That involves making double gifts in one year and none in the following year. What would have been spread out over two years is concentrated in one. If you feel your financial situation permits that, consult your tax advisor to see if it is an appropriate choice and what gift amounts would be beneficial. Others who want to contribute a large amount break it up into equal payments, say over five years, knowing that each year their tax deduction will be at the same level.