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Giving charitable gifts instead of traditional gifts to others might mean more to the recipient that material items! Check out these gifts for good suggestions.
Running out of gift ideas for loved ones this holiday season? Some people seem to already have everything they need and some don’t like material items.
When you have these types of gift recipients on your list, consider making a donation in their name to a charitable cause!
Here are some ideas for finding a cause that is both personally meaningful and reputable.
Ideas for Charities to Consider
When deciding to give charitable gifts in lieu of traditional presents, it is important that the cause is one that has a level of personal importance to either the giver, the receiver, or ideally, both.
Here are some ideas for charitable organizations:
* Military Charities. Keeping those who are overseas first in mind during the holidays is of importance to many people. Many military organizations have specific lists of things that can be purchased and send to soldiers for the holidays such as personal care items, entertainment items (books, magazines, CDs), and clothing. Monetary donations are also accepted and appreciated by groups like the USO. Also, keep in mind Veteran’s groups that often go overlooked during the holiday season. Find all about sending cards to soldiers here.
* Local Charities. Many people like to give to a charity that is close to hand. This makes them feel that their money is going to fund neighborhood programs and help needy neighbors. Consult local food banks, school districts, churches, synagogues, and libraries for local charitable organizations.
* International Charities. It’s easy to forget that there is a world outside our own doors. For those who want their donations to help world-wide charities, consider groups that aid in the world’s causes like poverty, freshwater, hunger, and vaccination programs. Reputable groups can be found on the American Institute of Philanthropy’s website.
* Specific Causes. Other ideas to consider when searching for a charity include donating to causes that support specific diseases, help animal groups, and promote educational programs and scholarships.
Things to Remember When Searching for a Reputable Charity
Anyone who decides to give unselfishly should go one step further and ensure that the charity they are donating to is one that is reputable.
Here are some tips on how to verify the charity’s good-standing and make sure that the donation goes to those who need it most:
* Consult the American Institute of Philanthropy (AIP). This site serves as a watchdog for charitable organizations. Those interested can search the AIP’s database of charities as well as their top-rated charities to find trusted ones and ones to avoid.
* Do research. Know the charity before writing out the check. First, visit the charity’s website. Look for links that provide the charity’s board of directors, the charity’s mission statement, and any financial data available. Charities that provide this information (either on their website or by written request) are using honest business practices and can be considered reputable.
* Understand what percentage of your donation goes to help. Most charities operate as non-profit organizations, and any monies they receive are spread out between the operational costs of the charity and the actual program/people being supported. The AIP recognizes a reputable charity is one that divides the donation in this percentage: 60% goes to the programs/people being sponsored, and 40% goes to administrative and fundraising costs.
* Maintain records of all donations. The IRS requires tangible proof of donations in excess of $250, so be sure to obtain a receipt. For smaller amounts, be sure to keep your canceled check or credit card authorization slip as proof of donation. Keeping these records in one place will make it easy when tax time rolls around.
Bypassing on traditional gifts that often go unappreciated, and opting for charitable ones instead, will help to reinforce the idea that it is better to give than to receive and to enforce the true spirit of the holiday season!