There’s a reason that charities reach out to tell you what to donate to during the holidays. It’s called the “season for giving” because Americans are more generous in December than at any other time. End-of-year gifting to a favorite charity is also a great way to balance your finances.
According to World Vision’s annual Holiday Giving Survey conducted online by the Harris Poll, in the last two weeks of the year more than 63 percent of Americans typically donate to a charitable cause. About 27 percent make end-of-year donations to churches; the same number of Americans give to charities that serve the poor, and another 26 percent donate to children’s charities.
Most Americans would say they have a soft spot in their heart for a particular cause. Your average PTA members will say they care about kids. Or talk to a veteran and he or she will like the idea of supporting a nonprofit organization that offers a boost to their military brothers and sisters.
Choosing to donate Christmas gifts to a favorite cause enables you to get a tax write-off, but also to personally endorse what a reputable nonprofit is doing to make the world a better place.
Most communities have a charitable group that engages the public to donate toys for Christmas. Nearly every American will agree that kids don’t deserve to suffer – especially at Christmastime. That’s why millions of dollars in seasonal donations go to nonprofits that benefit children and their families who are struggling – and those individuals are never difficult to locate.
Imagining children in pain is a driving force behind a donation to children’s hospitals, and there are hundreds across the United States. When childhood cancer alone strikes more than 15,000 families per year, with a total of 40,000 kids getting treatment, there’s no overstating the need for research.
For more than 40 years, Focus on the Family has been committed to reaching parents and children to offer spiritual guidance and hope for the future. When you donate to Focus on the Family, it grows their ministries, which range from Christian radio to intensive marriage workshops.
The nonprofit also has resources for the Spanish-speaking population called “Enfoque a la Familia,” an app with thousands of videos, articles, movies and other material for strengthening family values.
There are pet lovers who work to reduce the number of strays, and there are animal advocates who support causes that try to eradicate poaching or promote the ethical treatment of all species. Needless to say, there are numerous nonprofits with one of these missions located in every community. You can give money to charity or donate a car to animals.
Giving to your local Humane Society is one way to start. You make a direct difference – finding homes for more unwanted pets and creating a better life for mistreated animals.
More than 60 years ago, four founders got together to protect animals. Their mission included efforts to eliminate animal cruelty, educate the public on animal ethics and conserve wildlife. It’s a costly endeavor, as any animal owner can tell you.
The Little Red Dog focuses on helping canines, but doesn’t single out any particular breed. They can all benefit from the efforts of the nonprofit to find them loving homes. With the help of loyal volunteers and foster families, the organization seeks out dogs who are in high-kill shelters across Southern California. They take them in and rehabilitate them so they can find adoptive families.
The website posts photos of adoptable dogs and offers training courses. The cost to save a dog from a shelter is approximately $700, so a car donation to The Little Red Dog often results in the rescue of multiple animals.
Our men and women in uniform serve us all year long. And those who have left active duty – who are faithful veterans – oftentimes are suffering as a result of their service.
Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is one of the most common challenges facing those returning from war. When you donate to veterans through one of thousands of nonprofit programs, you get more treatment to service men and women.
Patriots and Paws matches military veterans to four-legged friends, as well as raising money for home goods. The nonprofit organization donates couches, dining room tables and even kitchen tools, whatever the clients need.
They simply need to contact Patriots and Paws via email and create a “wish list,” and depending on what has been donated to them, they fill it as quickly as possible. All items are offered completely free, no strings attached, just for providing us our freedom.
If you’re wondering, “Is there a donation center near me?” it depends on whether or not you live in Southern California. When they come home from deployment and need to set up a household, there are many service members who need help. We do not want our heroes living with homelessness.
Also, when there are veterans, active military or reservists who have an interest in an animal, Patriots and Paws provide them with a free rescue companion animal that is spayed or neutered and current on their shots. The organization has a long-term plan to open its own kennel, but currently places animals through WAGS Rescue Shelter in Orange County.
You can donate gently used home furnishings, become a monthly donor or donate a car to Patriots and Paws. Some companies offer matching funds, so you may consider instituting a similar program.
Some of their biggest expenses include warehouse rent in Orange County, California and trucks to pick up donations. There is one full-time employee and one part-time employee. Members of the board and other participants in the work of Patriots and Paws are volunteers. The website says, “The needs of the veterans/active military/reservists will always come first.”
United States Volunteer Emergency Management is another reputable nonprofit inspiring people to help people. The organization matches volunteers to needs, connecting good people to good causes by identifying opportunities for volunteerism.
The USVEM makes sure resources are allocated optimally, and what better way to meet those needs than through the financially beneficial and simple good will of volunteerism? Many organizations need cash, so when you consider local charities to donate to, there are many ways you can contribute to promote health and welfare for all.
Types of Seasonal Donations
Giving isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. Luckily, there are many opportunities and because needs vary, so do solutions. If you need more tax write-offs or you’re simply moved by the spirit of generosity, you may consider any of the following:
• Clothing: You may have seen the bright yellow Planet Aid bins which are placed at locations around town. The organization hasn’t spread to every state in the U.S., but they offer everyone who sees one to contribute clothes or shoes they no longer need.
• Shoes: You can make a Salvation Army donation any time. If you're wondering, "Is there a donation center near me?" but don't have time to search one out, you can just look for a Charity Clothing Pickup drop box for shoe donations. Everyone needs footwear, so when families are struggling a secondhand pair of shoes is a welcome opportunity.
• Food Drive: Most will agree that the number one need is food. The nonprofit Feeding America is the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization meeting domestic needs. By banding together with both individuals and groups – from businesses to nonprofits – the goal is to end hunger as soon as possible.
• Children’s toys and gifts: When you’re cleaning closets and looking for what to donate, it’s easy to unload the kids’ old blocks and Legos. Toys for Tots has distributed more than 560 million toys since its founding in 1947. When you donate toys for Christmas you add to the more than 250 million children who have been supported by the charity so far. You can also donate gently used goods to the American Red Cross through Green Drop.
The Mutual Benefit of a Car Donation
Aside from an opportunity to donate Christmas gifts, the end of the year is also a good time to make last-minute tax-deductible donations. One of the most common tax write-offs of this kind is a charity car donation.
If you don’t know how to donate a car to charity, you’ll find it’s typically a very simple process. There is, of course, a variation in the protocol followed by different companies, but through Cars2Charities you’re basically done with your part after reaching out to us.
Vehicles of nearly every kind are accepted by Cars2Charities, including RV donations, boat donations, motorcycles and even golf carts. The beauty is that you’re turning something you already own and transferring its value to someone who needs it.
Many of our clients say that the main benefit of donating cars through us is the ease of the process. We schedule a pickup and complete all the paperwork, including the title transfer. You don’t have to stand in line at the DMV – we do all that for you, so you can just collect the tax break.
Like any altruistic act, the simple joy of giving back is a benefit in itself. It feels good to take something ordinary and turn it into a life-changing moment for others. When you consider what to donate this year, take note of your contribution to a better world.