7 tips to make the most of your year-end giving

A Mazda MPV minivan being donated to a charita...
A Mazda MPV minivan being donated to a charitable organization is secured by chain onto the flatbed of a tow tuck. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even if you’re still in the middle of your holiday shopping, you might also be thinking about how to make your final charitable contributions of the year. In 2015, twenty-nine percent of charitable giving occurred in December – eleven percent in the last three days of the year.* In case you’re not donating a car, use these final weeks of the year to apply a few year-end money-giving tips from World Vision programs for under-served children:

  1. Keep it simple. Most organizations offer a wide variety of ways to make a difference. For donors who feel overwhelmed or are not sure where their passions lie, look for a general fund to make the greatest impact. For example, the World Vision Gift Catalog offers an excellent option to give where most needed to help children and families in areas of greatest need.
  2. Invest in the future. Explore options to change a child’s world for good; it will make an impact on the future while also providing a tax deduction for readers. World Vision offers the option to invest in a full-year of child sponsorship through a single transaction; the benefit will accrue throughout the life of the child in 2017, while readers can claim the deduction on their 2016 taxes.
  3. Give someone else’s money. Hundreds of companies across the country match employee contributions to nonprofits, doubling the impact without requiring the donor to give another cent!
  4. Forget the checkbook. Generosity comes in many forms. Donating valuable personal property such as farm equipment, royalties and even jewelry is an innovative way to turn non-cash assets into life-transforming gifts. Check with local organizations to see how non-cash assets can be donated; national organizations may have guidelines posted online, such as World Vision’s guides for Planned Giving.
  5. “Double” your tax break. Readers can “double” their tax break by donating appreciated assets such as stock and real estate. Stock that has grown in value can be donated for a charitable deduction for the current value, and the capital gains tax will be eliminated on the appreciation. A gift of real estate will also valued at its current valuation for charitable deduction purposes, enabling the donor to avoid capital gains taxes.
  6. Consider itemizing. When readers file their taxes, if their total deductions – state and local taxes, mortgage interest, charitable donations, etc. – are greater than the standard deduction, they may come out ahead by itemizing.
  7. Remember the deadline. Gifts must be completed by midnight on December 31, 2016, to be eligible to receive a charitable deduction for the 2016 tax year. Keep in mind that stocks or other securities may take two to three weeks to process at this time of year, so don’t delay. Right now’s the time.

*Network for Good: http://www.networkforgood.com/digitalgivingindex/