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Become a Savvy Charitable Giver

According to an article on Forbes.com, 16% of organizations say they receive more than half of their total contributions for the year between the months of October and December and 11% of online charitable donations will be made in just the three final days of the year.

As a community bank, giving back to the community is part of the West Bank culture. Our West Bancorporation Foundation board is responsible for determining where much of West Bank’s charitable contributions are granted. If you don’t have a foundation board researching and guiding where your charitable money goes, how do you determine how much to give and how do you ensure that your gift reaches the intended source? Follow these tips to become a savvy charitable giver.

Set an Annual Charitable Giving Budget

Take the time to figure out how much of your disposable income can go to charity. Often charities will allow you to set up a schedule, such as monthly contributions, that will spread the donation out through the entire year. This can be good for you and good for the charity as your donations will make a smaller dent in your bank account and the charity’s work and need for funding goes on all the year. 

Follow Your Passion

You have a finite number of dollars to give, so give to causes that are close to your heart. You can search the internet for your topic of interest such as “homeless children”, “hunger in America”, or “animal rescue”. If you want a local charity, include the words “near me” or the name of your city or state.

Give to an Established Charity

Unfortunately, there are fraudulent charities that will take advantage of your goodwill. To avoid this situation, do your online research. Find information about the charity, including name, address and telephone number, their mission, how your donation will be used and proof that your contribution is tax deductible. They will often provide an annual report that lists financial information and activities. Double check your findings by searching for the charity by name plus “complaint,” “review,” “rating,” or “scam”.  A little internet surfing will help you find a charity with a proven track record.

Designate Your Gift

Some charities allow you to specify exactly where your gift is headed, either to a specific orphanage, to purchase school supplies or to a geographic area in need of relief. By designating or earmarking your gift, you control where your donation goes and whom it helps.

Be Careful How You Pay

  • Requests for cash, gift card, or money transfer should raise a red flag that this is a scam.
  • Paying by credit card or check or in some cases an employer-approved payroll deduction plan is safer.
  • Keep records of all of your donations and review your statements.
  • Check out online giving portals by following advice from the FTC DONATING THROUGH AN ONLINE GIVING PORTAL

 
 Benefits to You

A donor’s primary motivation may be altruism, but everyone knows there can be tax benefits for those who give. A donation to a qualified organization may entitle you to a charitable contribution deduction. Remember a contribution to a qualified charity is deductible only in the year in which it is paid, and all charities do not qualify for a charitable contribution deduction. Always ask for a receipt and save them for tax time.*

Consider Giving Your Time

Four out of five charities report using volunteers. Volunteers are the foundation of many charitable organizations. If you can’t afford to donate money, consider donating your time. Common volunteer duties include: stuffing envelopes, feeding animals, tutoring, building homes, serving as a museum docent, counseling those in crisis, selling tickets or answering phone calls.

Visit these other sites to find out more on charitable giving:

The Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance http://give.org
Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund http://fidelitycharitable.org
Schwab Charitable Fund https://www.schwabcharitable.org/public/charitable/home
Charity Navigator – America’s Largest Charity Evaluator site https://www.charitynavigator.org/


*Please consult with your tax advisor on the tax implications of your charitable gifts.

 

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