Want to Participate in Giving Tuesday? This Guide Explains Everything About Donations, Deductions and Volunteering

Giving Tuesday Guide 2023 HEADER

As the holidays approach, we set up decorations, plan for holiday gatherings and buy gifts. We become more generous to our family and friends but also to others in need. That’s why we’ve rounded up this Giving Tuesday Guide, so you have all the resources you need at your disposal for 2023.

The complete Giving Tuesday guide

Giving Tuesday, which falls on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving, was established a little over a decade ago to encourage individuals to give back. From donating blood to giving financially to making room in your week to lend a hand, there are many ways to help nonprofits. But how can you find an organization you would like to support? What are the financial benefits of charitable giving? And, if you are new to volunteering, how can you help with the limited time and money you have to offer? You’ll find answers to these questions below. 

How to participate in Giving Tuesday: Start local

A good first step is to comb your social networks. Volunteer opportunities may exist right in your neighborhood. For example, religious groups, local schools or even Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops often organize fundraisers or volunteer outings that can be great for all ages. When considering how to participate in Giving Tuesday, think of any friends who may serve on the board of organizations they feel passionate about. Many nonprofits host a variety of fundraisers like galas or golf outings that are social and something you can attend with a friend but that also benefit a community in need.

Then, dig a little deeper

The site Charity Navigator can tell you many things about an organization. For example, are they a registered 501(c)(3)? How much of their donations go to helping the cause versus administrative costs? The site also has a section that lets you know, given the current state of the world, which groups really need help right now.

How to donate on Giving Tuesday and what organizations need

Financial support benefits all organizations, but getting involved in person is a great way to socialize and give back.

Nourish.NJ

Nourish.NJ, a group based out of Morristown, New Jersey, that provides food to those in need through farmers markets and by handing out pre-made breakfast bags and lunch daily, needs volunteers to help on- and off-site all year.

“Many people want to help around the holidays, but those slots are usually filled ahead of time,” explains James Collins, the organization’s chief development officer. “The toughest time for us to retain consistent volunteers is on a Friday in the summer, especially when the weather is nice, or during January and February when it’s cold out. People need to eat all year.”

Oasis, A Haven for Women and Children

Oasis, A Haven for Women and Children, located in Paterson, New Jersey, works to break the cycle of poverty by providing meals, social support, clothing and education. As important as the organization is to the community, only 8% of their funding is from the U.S. government, so they heavily rely on private donations and volunteers to help in all areas of the center, says Laetitia Cairoli, director of development.

From babysitting and preparing and serving lunch, to offering free services like yoga and even math tutoring, the center wants the residents to benefit from whatever someone can offer—even if it’s only three days a year of on-site yoga instruction or one day a month in the child care center. “We are very flexible and love to take advantage of someone’s gifts…. We want to make your skills available to this community,” Cairoli says.

When thinking about how to donate on Giving Tuesday, another option is Oasis’s own thrift store where they take gently used clothes. The store sells clothing at extremely low prices to make it affordable to families, and the organization also gives clothing free of charge to families in crisis.

Chemo Comfort

Anne Marie Paolucci founded the all-volunteer-run organization Chemo Comfort in New York City after giving her friend a well-received chemo starter kit. Because she’s a three-time cancer survivor herself, Paolucci knew that the kit should include comfortable socks, lozenges that help with mouth sores, a sleep cap, teas that soothe nausea and guided imagery meditations. Each year, hundreds of kits go to New York metro area hospitals and health care centers.

“Our tagline is ‘empowering patients’,” Paolucci says, “because when you’re diagnosed with cancer, you get a ton of information, and [when] people are suddenly doing stuff to you, you lose control quickly.”

In-person and remote volunteer jobs are available, such as making kits and stuffing mail envelopes. Of course, they also take financial donations. 

The only way to find out what an organization needs and who can help is to ask. “Come and visit and see what we do,” Cairoli suggests. “Even just a quick email to our volunteer coordinator can help you determine if it’s a good fit.”

Consider the financial advantages: How individuals can benefit 

Aside from knowing that you did something good for someone in need, there are also financial benefits of Giving Tuesday. While your time is not deductible, monetary donations and gifts of clothing and other goods with a fair market value are. The IRS allows charitable contributions as a deduction on your yearly tax return, but only if you itemize your deductions instead of taking the standard deduction.

Individuals can typically deduct cash donations up to 60% of their income per year, but making sure your deductions are legitimate and documented is essential. Lee Reams Sr., the co-founder of TaxBuzz, recommends checking the status of the charity on the IRS website’s online tool before you donate. “This ensures that your donations are tax-deductible. Itemizing deductions requires a thorough account of donations, including the organization’s official name, the date of the contribution and the amount contributed,” he explains. “Donors should save receipts for donations exceeding $250 as required by the IRS.”

To help maximize your deduction, Marci Spivey, a tax partner at Cherry Bekaert, suggests clients consider making donations of long-term appreciated stock. Using this strategy, you can remove the gain from your portfolio without paying tax on it and get a charitable contribution equal to the current value of the stock you donated to the charity. Keep in mind that the stock needs to have appreciated in value to get the double benefit.

Benefits of Giving Tuesday for other entities

Corporations can also financially benefit from charitable giving. William Billips, a tax services partner at Cherry Bekaert, explains that C corporations’ charitable contributions cannot exceed 10% of taxable income for 2023. However, any excess may carry over for five years. It’s worth considering if your company is estimated to have a higher income in coming years and can benefit down the road. Corporations can donate cash and other property, the value of which is the fair market value on the day of the donation, reduced by any unrealized gain. S corporations, partnerships and other pass-through entities can also make charitable contributions that pass through the owners, partners or members.

Knowing that these costs can reduce expenses and lower your bottom line, thus potentially saving tax dollars, may allow you to donate more than you anticipated. However you decide to give back this year, there are people who will appreciate it.

Photo by Ground Picture/Shutterstock.com

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Jaclyn Greenberg writes about her experiences parenting as well as challenges related to accessibility and inclusion. She has written for The New York Times, CNN, Parents, Wired and other publications. Jaclyn is currently querying a memoir about advocacy and finding her voice.You can connect with her on Twitter at jl_greenberg or Instagram at JaclynlGreenberg.

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