There are lots of benefits to donating to charity, for both your own well-being and that of others.
Thinking about giving back this holiday season? You’re not alone. December is a popular time for making charitable donations, accounting for 20% of all giving.
Read on to learn the benefits of charity giving and how to find a reputable charity for your donations.
Benefits of charity donations
If you donate to a store’s pet charity when you’re checking out, there’s a good chance you’ll be rewarded with a clanging celebratory bell. But you don’t need bells and whistles to reap the rewards of charity. There are so many compelling reasons to give to your favorite cause.
You’ll help others
Most importantly, donating to a reputable charity will bring assistance to those who need it most. And you will be a part of making a positive difference in the world. This is probably the main reason you are looking into charity donations, so be sure to think hard about where you think your money will most benefit the causes that you care about most.
It will bring you personal happiness
Research has shown that spending money on others brings people more happiness than spending money on themselves. Giving has also been shown to release dopamine, a chemical in your brain that makes you feel good.
It can improve your physical health
According to the Cleveland Clinic, donating money and doing other tasks for others has been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce depression, and lower stress levels.
It might inspire friends and family
Goodness begets goodness. The people around you will see that you are making a positive difference in the world and may be inspired to do the same. You’ll also be setting a good example for your grandkids, especially if you donate in their name to a charity that resonates with them.
It could help with your taxes
Depending on your financial situation, you may be able to deduct your donation from your taxes. You can deduct donations only if you itemize your deductions.
Before donating, check the IRS website to be sure your preferred charity is tax exempt. If you donate used items like clothes, furniture, or cars, you can claim the value of the items on your tax return. Be sure to keep any documentation for your records.
There are a slew of reasons to donate to charity, but most importantly, figure out why it’s important and beneficial to you!
Choosing a charity
Interested in donating but not sure where? It pays to do a little homework.
“Finding worthy charities isn’t easy, but the reward is more than just helping people,” Ken Stern, author of “Charity for All,” wrote for NextAvenue. “It is ensuring that [the] best and most effective charities can flourish.”
Several organizations can help you vet charities before you hand over your money. Yes, it’s an extra step, but you’ll have the confidence of knowing your hard-earned money is going to a reputable non-profit that does the work it says it does.
Below are four organizations that can help you to learn about a charity’s impact, accountability, finances, and transparency. (You'll find links to each in the additional resources section.)
- Charity Navigator
- Charity Watch
These websites are user friendly and help you search by the name of the charity, a specific cause, a location, and more. Both Charity Navigator and Charity Watch assign a grade to each charity so you don’t have to read financial reports (unless you want to).
Give what you can this holiday season. And if you don’t have the extra money to spare, remember that giving your time can make a powerful difference, too! Check out VolunteerMatch to find organizations that could use a hand.
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- ClearMatch Medicare: Find a Medicare Plan
- Blackbaud Institute: Overall Giving Trends
- ScienceMag.org: Spending Money on Others Promotes Happiness
- Psychology Today: This Is Your Brain on Charitable Giving
- IRS: Tax Exempt Organization Search
- NextAvenue: A Charity Expert’s Advice on Giving Wisely