The End of Year Giving Season
The Christmas and Hanukkah holiday season is a time for reconnecting with our family members, celebrating with our friends, and exchanging gifts with people we hold closest to our hearts to show how we feel about them. Unfortunately, for every end of year giving season, not everyone is lucky enough to have someone to spend their favorite holiday with, nor somewhere safe to celebrate. For those in need of a helping hand this holiday season, consider giving either money, time or both to one of many charitable organizations.
Donations to charitable organizations tend to increase toward the end of the year for many reasons. In fact, year-end giving statistics show that many nonprofit organizations, including but not limited to Christmas charities, depend on holiday gift-giving as a means of staying solvent throughout the year. While 33% of the donations they receive come from online sources, including 18% of that in December alone, the rest still comes from in-person giving and volunteering. Some organizations now use social media to promote #GivingTuesday in the hopes of increasing the number of donations even further through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other similar outlets.
Even though no religious belief system declares that giving during a holiday is more sacred or charitable than any other time of the year, some people wait until the end of the year in order to qualify for income tax deductions of up to 50% of their adjusted gross income. While older people with IRAs can use the Qualified Annual Deduction in order to avoid the tax, millennials tend to give for its own sake, preferring online sources, crowdfunding, and social media to publicize their Holiday charitable giving and connect with other people on that basis. With that in mind, here is a guide to 11 of the best End of Year Giving Options and Charities, and how these organizations and activities help the needy have a healthier, happier holiday season.
1. Donate Food
This holiday season, there are approximately 46 million people in the United States who will not have enough food to eat, making it sadly ironic how many holiday celebrations revolve around food. In addition to ensuring we do not waste our own food, we can help the hungry by donating food, money, and time to organizations that help give them food. Those of us who grow our own food can also donate fresh fruits and vegetables to food banks.
One such organization, Feed the Children Foundation, devotes itself to making sure no children in the United States suffer from the effects of malnutrition from going too long without food. Another one, Food for the Poor Foundation, has helped provide food, water, and housing to 17 Latin American countries. In England, the Felix Project ensures the Help A Hungry Child program helps London’s children have enough to eat. Donations pay for a food truck to bring groceries to hungry children who can pick up a bag and take it home.
2. Donate an Animal
Pets can bring companionship and bonding while teaching a child the responsibility of taking care of a living thing. They also help people with visual impairments get around safely. But even they need help every so often. Money keeps shelters open so they can help keep the pet population under control, but that is only the beginning. They still rely on the kindness of humans donating their time. Whether it involves reading to animals, donating cleaning supplies to shelters, or actually walking people’s pets, giving help to animals in need this season is sure to prove emotionally rewarding.
Outside of that, the Oxfam America Foundation allows people to buy symbolic gifts for a price that provides lasting solutions for impoverished farmers. If that was not enough to make it worthwhile in and of itself, these gifts are also tax-deductible! Another organization, Heifer.org, helps communities affected by famine become sustainable again by selling shares in goats, cows and water buffalo along with a symbolic reminder of every purchase.
3. Donate a Toy
There are very few sights quite as unique and memorable as the smile on a child’s face when he or she receives a brand new toy as a present for Christmas or Hanukkah. The pressures low-income families face can make it difficult enough for them to supply basic needs to their families without even taking into account luxuries such as holiday presents. But that does not mean that needy children should have to go without this holiday season.
There are several organizations that provide toys for needy children. One of the best-known and most prominent of those organizations is Toys for Tots. Other organizations that accept used toys include Freecycle, and Second Chance Toys, while The Spruce Foundation suggests donating toys to hospitals, doctor’s offices, houses of worship, and military families. Children can participate in toy donation drives, too, as long as the toys are of the types that these places are going to accept.
4. Donate a Book
Reading is fundamental, and having books in the home can help kids get ahead in school. For some families, that is more of a luxury than it is for others. Old books that are not being read and are just taking up space in the house can be donated to a library, a school, or a house of worship. Not only can this provide new reading opportunities for those in need, it can clear up much-needed room in the house!
Organizations that help improve literacy overseas could also use some help. One such organization is Worldreader, which brings books, e-readers, and reading apps to the developing world. Since 2010 it has brought over 40,000 books to over 6.3 million readers. Another organization that supports efforts to increase literacy rates in Africa, Asia, and South America is The Book Bus, operating community libraries in these places and always accepting donations and volunteers.
5. Donate Jewelry
If diamonds are a girl’s best friend, then be a best friend to a girl — or a woman — who cannot afford them and donate unwanted ones to charity. There are charitable organizations in the UK that will accept jewelry to either sell it or melt it down. In the United States, outside of Goodwill Industries, the I Have Wings Foundation sells costume jewelry to benefit women with breast cancer. The Giving Center also accepts jewelry to benefit their efforts to support the homeless and the hungry. Get the jewels appraised first because the IRS considers revenue from selling them to be taxable income; in order to qualify for any kind of credit for donating it, they have to know how much it is worth first.
6. Donate a Painting
Nothing makes a bold statement quite like having a work of art hanging on the wall. Donating a painting can attract a lot of money for a charitable cause as long as it is appraised beforehand. Perhaps local artists can get together and auction off their artwork to help food banks and homeless shelters. The Art Connection Foundation allows both gallery-qualified artists and appraised collectors to donate their own artwork to the charity of their choice. Another organization, Collectibles with Causes, does the same thing and offers a fair market tax deduction for every donation it accepts. Similar to the case with jewelry donations, the IRS has a form to fill out on appraised sales of paintings worth more than $500 in order to see if they are eligible for a tax deduction.
7. Donate a House
It goes without saying that everybody needs a place to live. Unfortunately, there are still people in this country who do not have a home. Some charities accept houses as taxable donations, but don’t expect to be able to pass off any old hovel as good enough. As for the type of charity to donate the house to, conservationists and preservations are always willing to accept reasonable donations. So is the Real Estate With Causes Foundation, an organization that supports children’s causes, medical research, education, services for the differently abled, and animal conservation. Little Pink Houses of Hope accepts house donations for weeklong vacations for women with breast cancer.
8. Donate a Car
Unless their living conditions make it possible for them to get by without one, the majority of people need a car to get around town. Car donations are tax-deductible, but they are only practical when the recipient actually intend to drive the car and would not have been able to obtain one by any other means. Kars 4 Kids accepts new and used cars to help underprivileged and differently-abled children without wasting any of the money on any bureaucracy or middlemen. The DMV Foundation will also take a car and donate it to the 501(c)(3) non-profit charity of the donor’s choice.
9. Donate Hair
People with cancer can lose their hair as a response to chemotherapy. In addition to all the other physical, emotional, and financial challenges that follow a cancer diagnosis, this sudden change in appearance can have a devastating impact on self-esteem and energy. People with long hair can get it cut off and donate their hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, an organization that works with the American Cancer Society to give cancer patients free wigs made from that same hair. Wigs For Kids does something similar for children going through the same thing, while Hair We Share uses social media to raise money to collect hair and materials to make the wigs.
10. Donate Make-up
Poverty can make it hard for women to afford essentials such as makeup and personal hygiene products. Instead of throwing unused or unwanted items of that nature away, donate it to a charitable organization that gives it to low-income women. Project Beauty Share is one such organization; it collects these items and gives them to women’s shelters and other groups that help battered women rebuild their lives. The Beauty Bus Foundation is another organization that accepts unwanted toiletries and beauty products while also providing grooming services for those in need.
11. Donate Clothes
Everyone needs to wear clothes, and the decreasing temperatures make it all the more important for people to have warm clothes to wear during the winter. If we have seasonal clothes our children have outgrown, then we can donate them to used clothing stores or seasonal clothing drives. Dress For Success uses the sales from its used dresses to help empower women in the workplace. To get rid of old shoes, donate them to Share Your Soles; they give them to children in developing countries.
Getting the Most from Giving the Best
Our End of Year Giving decisions can help make the holiday season more joyful for the less fortunate. There are unlimited ways to give and get involved, so make one of them part of a year-end giving plan. Hopefully, this holiday giving guide will prove to be a step in the right direction towards a world without poverty. There are other organizations not on this list that can also prove to be an equally valuable source of goods and services for those in need; just make sure that these organizations are all they say they are and that the majority of their expenses actually go to charity.
If none of those are enough, then tell us what kind of other ways there are to make the world a better place and truly demonstrate an understanding of the spirit of giving, whether it involves helping battered women, injured soldiers, senior citizens, or hungry children. As wonderful as it is to do things for the less fortunate during the holidays, it is equally important to keep that same spirit of giving alive for those in need after the holidays. Thanks for reading this End of Year Giving Guide.