If you're like me, you love the festive nature of the holidays but are also over the idea of running around finding the right gift that's not too expensive and not too kitschy and not just another thing that takes up space. Most of the things I really want (to hike Machu Picchu and a new iPad Pro) are beyond what I would ask for as a gift and right now I'm trying to shed things rather than accumulate them.
My aunt recently offered the idea that instead of exchanging Amazon gift cards (which is really what our gift giving had devolved into), that we donate to the charity of the other's choice, and I jumped on it. Especially in the time of Covid, there are many people who are still struggling and need help, particularly kids who live in food-poor areas and lack the access to proper education and healthy activities like arts and sports.
So where should you donate?
First, what's important to you? There are animal charities, environmental organizations, community development funds, arts and culture non-profits, education scholarships, medical research foundations (pick a disease and guaranteed it has its own funding organization), food banks and pantries, youth and family shelters, and International NGOs. Most charities fall into one of three categories: private foundations, public charities, and private operating foundations.
Second, how do you want to give? Is this a one-time donation? A recurring gift? A stock donation? A planned gift? Or an in-kind donation? Often people use these kinds of donations differently in terms of tax write-offs and
It's always good to vet the organization you're interested in giving money to. The IRS has a tax exempt organization search on their website where, according to them, you can check an organization's eligibility to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions (Pub 78 Data). You can also search for information about an organization's tax-exempt status and filings. This ProPublica site, Nonprofit Explorer, allows you to view summaries of tax returns from tax-exempt organizations and see financial details such as their executive compensation and revenue and expenses. Charity Navigator not only allows you to find a charity that matches your values, but also does some of the work for you by researching organizations and reviewing them as to how well they actually allocate donated funds.
LoveToKnow has a great blog post on their vetted top 100 charities which range from arts institutions like the Smithsonian to educational programs like Teach for America to Doctors without Borders, the World Wildlife Fund, and the Special Olympics.
There are so many ways to give over the holidays, and in the spirit of It's a Wonderful Life, so many way to earn your angel wings.
PopUP CleanUP donates to re-entry programs and charities to uplift the African American community and support black equity and business. Our founder is on the board at Start Small Think Big and herself is dedicated to providing opportunities to those less fortunate.