Philanthropy Column


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 Philanthropy 
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Asked to donate at the register? Feel free to say ‘bah humbug’

Asked to donate at the register? Feel free to say noEver experience “donation shaming”?

It’s a common practice, especially during the holidays, for cashiers at grocery stores and big box retailers to ask you if you want to donate a few dollars to a charity along with your purchase.
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 Philanthropy 
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Why We Use a Charitable Gift Fund

Donation BoxA few years ago, I mentioned we were going to open up a Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund to help facilitate our charitable giving. When I was growing up, my parents didn’t do any charitable giving the way Americans do – donating to their favorite charities or philanthropies. For our family, our charitable giving was in the form of sending money back to grandparents and relatives. Anything “left over,” as if that existed, was saved so that we could pay for flights back to Taiwan to see those relatives. (nowadays it’s different, my mom and I have chatted about the charities we support)

So when my lovely wife started talking about making some charitable donations, I left it in her hands. I was just going to try to figure out how to donate the smartest way possible. That’s when I stumbled upon charitable gift funds.

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 Philanthropy 
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How to Donate Responsibly

Give us this day...One of the ways that you can help others, and receive a financial advantage in the form of a tax break is to donate to charity. Your philanthropic efforts can provide a way for you to influence the world in a good way, as well as give a little back to you with the help of a tax advantage.

Most of those who donate aren’t just in it for the tax break. Many of us like to feel as though we are doing good in the world, and helping others. Donating responsibly is part of making sure that your money goes to a good cause.

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 Personal Finance, Philanthropy 
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Charitable Giving: Donating Your Stuff

donationsOne of the ways you can help a worthy cause, and get a tax break, is to donate your goods. Many charities, such as thrift stores and shelters, accept donations of goods. You can even get a tax deduction for these goods. However, you do need to be careful. The IRS is picky about what you can donate, and the charities themselves are become choosier about what they will accept if you want to donate.

So, as you go through your closets and drawers, and before you clean out the attic or basement, think about the new standards of charitable giving when it comes to donating your goods:

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 Philanthropy 
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Use Charity Navigator to Research Charities

As we near the end of the year, you’ll inevitably start seeing year end tax tips type of posts (I promise you at least one before we close out 2010). Those year end tax tips will certainly recommend that you make some charitable contributions before the end of the year so that you can take advantage of the tax deduction for this year. Before you go out donating money to every organization that you think is worthy, I recommend that you do a little research on charities to make sure your dollar can go as far as it can. With the economy as weak as it is, it’s important to make those contributions count.

Charity Navigator is my go-to charity rating site whenever I want to learn more about the effectiveness of a particular philanthropic organization. They do a fantastic job of reading through the financial statements and boiling it down to metrics that matter. When it comes to donating, you want your dollars to go as far as possible. I don’t want to have fifty cents of every dollar going to fundraising, I want 80 cents to go to the mission and maybe 20 cents to the “other stuff.” (even that seems high to me)

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 Philanthropy 
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Your Take: Favorite Year End Deduction?

With the year drawing to a close, a lot of people are thinking about year end tax moves, including myself. In general, there aren’t many year end tax moves you can make on December 18th. If you’re going to buy a house and take advantage of the home buyer tax credit, you would’ve started the process by now. If you wanted to buy a car, while it’s certainly not a terrible time to buy, it’s not terribly likely you’ll be able to do an in depth search, especially with the holidays getting in the way.

However, there are a handful of steps you can take and my favorite of them all is to pick out a few charities to support. You have to be sure to follow the documentation rules for tax purposes but it can pay dividends both financially and spiritually. I won’t get into the mechanics but each year we donate some money to a half dozen charities we’ve supported in the past and find a few new ones to support on a smaller level.

Anytime you can give, whether it’s time or money, the organization benefits. It can be $10, $100, or $1,000 but the important part is to remember those who are working hard to provide more good in this world and help support them when you can.

What’s your favorite year end tax deduction? If it’s charitable giving, what organizations do you support and how? It’s always fun to learn about smaller organizations doing great work at the local level.

 Philanthropy 
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My Favorite Charity: Ghent Bar Tour & Hope House Foundation

Next week I’ll be attending Pubcon in Las Vegas, a conference for online publishers, and one of the fun events going on is a charity poker tournament hosted by my buddy DK at Purposeinc. To participate, we were asked to write about our favorite charity and mine, without question, is the Ghent Bar Tour, which supports the Hope House Foundation. I don’t often write too much about the charities we support, which I probably should change for the future (let me know in the comments if you think so!), but I have written about the Ghent Bar Tour in the past (1, 2).

My friend Scott has been running the twice-annual Ghent Bar Tour for the last few years and I’ve had the great pleasure of being a sponsor every time he’s done it. He’s raised tens of thousands of dollars for the Make A Wish Foundation and Hope House Foundation. This past summer, they raised nearly $12,000 in one of the worst recessions we’ve seen in decades. That’s a testament to Scott, his team, the 75 volunteers, and all the generous sponsors who kicked in to support such a worthy cause.

Also, if you’ll be in Vegas next week, either for Pubcon or just for fun, shoot me an email and we can hang out.

 Philanthropy 
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Free Cold Stone Creamery Ice Cream with Donation – Make A Wish Foundation

Cold Stone CreameryIf you’re a fan of Cold Stone Creamery ice cream, fire up your ride because on Thursday, September 24th, you can get a free 3 oz. Make-A-Wish Creation between 5 PM and 8 PM with a donation. If you dare brave the inevitable lines for your 3 oz. treat, you will be richly rewarded for your trouble. (Image shown is not what you’ll get, that’s just a random photo)

Here’s what their microprint says:

FREE 3 oz. Make-A-Wish® Creation™ with a Donation

Donate and receive a 3 oz. sample of Jack’s Creation served out of a ready-to-love pan in a Like It™ Cup. Valid only during published date and time. While supplies last. No substitutions. Limit one per customer. An estimated 85 percent of all donations in September will benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation®. For more information about the Make-A-Wish Foundation, visit wish.org. ©2009 Cold Stone Creamery, Inc. All rights reserved.

The flavor mix this year is Sweet Cream ice cream mixed with brownie, sprinkles and caramel.

Use their Store Locator to find the nearest location.

(Photo: yanec)

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