Did you know there are positive mental health benefits attributed to having a generous spirit? And after a couple of COVID-weary years, we’re all looking for ways to feel better.
The end of the year is a great time to practice generosity. In addition to the endorphin spike you might experience from writing a check to your favorite charity, here are some other reasons year-end giving should be added to your holiday to-do list.
• The pandemic has had a significant impact on the financial health of many local nonprofits, and they are hurting. A March 2021 survey of our Lowcountry nonprofits, conducted under the direction of Together SC, found that 56% of responding nonprofits reported having six months or less of operating revenue. Thirty-seven percent had experienced an operating loss.
• You might get a tax deduction. In 2020 the CARES Act temporarily changed the tax code to allow individuals to take up to a $300 deduction for cash donations to a qualifying organization, even if you don’t itemize. For 2021, that not only has been extended, it’s been enhanced to allow a married couple filing jointly to deduct up to $600. (Gifts to donor advised funds and private foundations don’t count.)
An added bonus: This is an above-the-line deduction so it can also help reduce your adjusted gross income. The extension also applies to those who itemize, continuing to eliminate the percent of adjusted gross income limits for charitable deductions.
If you decide to make a year-end gift, here are some things to think about before you do:
1. Does your employer offer matching donations? It will help your gift go even farther.
2. If you have a favorite charity, great! If you don’t, think about what moves you; then do your homework. Make sure that the organization you give to is legitimate. Visit GuideStar.org to research local, national and international nonprofits. You can also visit our fund directory at cflowcountry.civicore.com/nonprofits, where you’ll find information about our many funds.
3. Have a hard-to-buy-for person on your list? Consider making a charitable donation to a cause that person supports. Many organizations allow you to make a gift “in honor” and they’ll even let the person know a gift has been made in their name.
4. Avoid scams. Don’t make a gift to an organization you don’t initiate contact with, unless you’ve done your research and know they’re legitimate. And if you’re giving online, make sure you see the “https” at the beginning of the URL.
5. Keep accurate records and get receipts.
6. Talk to us about other giving options. Community foundations offer an array of ways to invest in our communities and help our neighbors – from donor advised funds, to scholarships, to gifts of stock, and many others.
You can learn more on our website, cf-lowcountry.org. Or call us at 843-681-9100.
’Tis the season to consider a year-end donation. Happy holidays!
Scott Wierman is the president and CEO of Community Foundation of the Lowcountry.