Five Ways to Make Your Year-end Giving Have More Impact

The end of the calendar year motivates people to give. Faith, a spirit of gratitude and the celebration of the holidays leads people to think of how they can help others.

Some give at the end of the year to get a tax benefit. For some, it is giving out of what had been budgeted to help the community. Others just intended to earlier in the year and finally got around to it.

At this time of year, the phone rings constantly as people call the Community Foundation of Elkhart County, which is focused on inspiring generosity year-round, but can also offer expertise to those trying to make the most of year-end giving.

Pete McCown, president, is not a financial advisor or certified public accountant, but he can help devise a strategy for giving and offer these five suggestions as you consider how to give in the final month of 2017.

1. December 31 matters.
A lot of not-for-profit agencies count on donations at this time of year to meet annual budgets. In order for it to count on your 2017 taxes, a donation must be delivered in person or postmarked by December 31. “You must be able to demonstrate that the money left your control by that date,” said Spataro.

2. Consider giving an appreciated stock.
A check is an efficient way to share financial resources, but you can gift a stock or mutual fund that appreciated during the year, and then repurchase the stock. “Doing so helps a charity, but also becomes an itemized deduction on taxes and avoids the capital gains tax,” said McCown.

3. Honor someone with a gift.
You can make a gift in the name of your spouse, your children or someone else you love to honor them this holiday season. “Some families make that a tradition while others gather as a family to decide how to make their charitable donations,” said Spataro.

4. Model giving.
People who are generous have often seen someone else be generous. There’s a spectrum between an anonymous gift and boasting about charity in which someone can discreetly model generosity. Some talk about this as community investment, others as tithe. “If we want our children and grandchildren to be generous, then they need to know how we were generous,” said McCown.

5. Give time.
Giving back is not always about money. Volunteering as a family, a classroom or a civic group can help transform the community and those doing the volunteering. It could be giving elaborate gift baskets across town, or be as simple as shoveling a neighbor’s driveway, but giving is what matters. “I really do believe there is a therapeutic, spiritually fulfilling, character-building and emotionally powerful feeling that goes along with being generous,” said McCown.

This is a time of year when people count blessings and help others. We are grateful to be able to serve the Elkhart County community and help others seeking to be generous. May you have a blessed holiday!

Marshall V. King is a freelance writer and journalist who wrote this on behalf of the Community Foundation of Elkhart County