Tis the Season of giving – Ways of Giving and Tax Tips

In the last blog post, we saw the essence of true giving and free tools available to find an organizations that suits your lifestyle or passion to start thinking about donating. This post, we are going to see few different ways one can give and help. Also we will look at some Tax Implications of gift giving.

There are variety of ways to contribute, donate or give. A donation doesn’t have to be big and it doesn’t have to be money either. It is giving heart that matters. Let’s categorize charitable gift giving into two ways as Direct and Indirect.

I. Direct Donations

Cash is king whether it comes to businesses or non-profit organizations. At this tough economic juncture, it is not just the individuals and corporations which are feeling the pinch. Many non-profit organization are experiencing big hit in their donation dollars. This year Good will, Salvation Army and many other organizations has reported a decline in their donation. They need our help more than ever in this tough times. Giving Cash is a great way to show your support and it has a direct impact to the cause. Many organization now accept credit cards for donation.  But there are certain limitation to cash gifts in regard to Taxes. We will look at them later below.

II. Indirect Giving

1. Give by Gift Cards

You can buy charity gift cards at sites like http://www.tisbest.org/, www.charitygiftcertificates.org and www.JustGive.org. and give to the reciepent. He/she can spend or use the gift card and donating to their favorite society. It is a great feeling for both you. You give him the gift, he/she gifts to the favorite charity. Also there are lot of webistes which accepts unused store giftcards and donate the proceedings to charities. If you have a macy’s gift card which has balance of $2 or something. Many of us just threw it away because we won’t be able to buy anything using the small money left over. Instead, you can just give it away to charities by using these websites.

2. Don’t donate but Lend or Loan

I don’t believe in just giving  away money unless it is tipping somebody. Because the recepient will be back again to street asking more. It is better to help them find a job and make them work feed themselves. Like the chinese saying, “Don’t give them fish, instead teach them how to fish“.  There are few organizations like Kiva.org and UnitedProsperity.org which provides the platform to do just that. They help the donor to lend/loan money directly to aspiring Entrepreneurs in the developing countries. I started myself few months ago in both these websites and started lending and helping people.


3. Shop and Donate

It is called Cause related Marketing and are Selfish giving. Starbucks is helping to fight AIDS in Africa. Macy’s is giving to the Make A Wish Foundation. And Toys “R” Us is giving to Toys For Tots Many more retailers and manufacturers are partnering today with not-for-profit organizations in cause-related marketing campaigns. On one hand, these campaigns raise awareness, support, and donations for social causes such as global hunger relief. On the other hand, they enhance corporate reputations, customer loyalty, and financial gains for companies.

An example of cause-related marketing is an effort organized by Macy’s, Pfizer, and other businesses on behalf of the American Heart Association. The program has raised over $32 million in donations for the charity, while generating over 1 billion media impressions for corporate sponsors. So just buy shopping in these stores, you are indirectly benefiting some non-profit organizations. Whether you call this has selfish giving or not, it is at least benefiting somebody thats what matters. There was an article/report posted in npr about this cause related marketing. Check it out.

III. Volunteer your time

Time is precious and it has value. If you strapped with cash, you can also give your time. There are lot of local charity organization like hospitals, resale shopes which migh need help during this holiday times. You can always take time to volunteer and even claim those hours in your Tax returs. Talking of taxes, now its time to check what are the ways we can benefit from gift giving.

Tax Advantages

Giving not only satisfy our inner soul but also helps to save and get some money in return as an appreciation from Uncle Sam. Tax incentives is an added bonus encouraging many to contribute.

For charitable contributions of less than $250, you must keep a canceled check, credit card receipt or electronic funds transfer receipt. Or you must have a letter from the charity acknowledging receipt of the contribution and stating its date and amount. For charitable contributions of $250 or more, you’ll also need a written receipt from the charity substantiating the amount of cash contributed and a description (but not the value) of any property — other than cash — contributed.

And you must disclose whether the organization provided any goods or services (such as a theater ticket or dinner) in return for the contribution.
If you donate property, such as clothing, valued at less than $250, you must keep a receipt from
the charitable organization showing the charity’s name, contribution date, physical location of the contribution and a detailed description of the property (but not its value).

For larger donations, you’ll need even more documentation, including a description of how you acquired the property (purchase, gift, inheritance), the date you acquired the property and the original cost of that property. Donated property worth more than $5,000 requires a qualified appraisal, as do lesser-value objects that aren’t in “good” condition.


Giving from a full heart is one of the most joyous things you can do…“,  – from the book “The Secret”.

Make this holiday season special by donating your time or money in any above ways. It will surely sooth your soul and even make your pocket happy by getting some back so you can continue giving.

Happy Holidays!!

Sources: Internet website relate to charity giving
Photo source: www.oregon-crna.org

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