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The holiday season invokes in all of us the spirit of giving. That feeling makes this time of year ideal for charitable donations and philanthropy. While most organizations encourage donations year-round, the holidays are a time of great need among vulnerable communities. Here are a few tips to keep in mind for holiday charitable giving habits.

Abide by Deadlines

Individuals who plan to include their donations when filing their taxes need to have their gifts documented before the new year. Be sure to keep track of your annual donations so you can be accurate in your reports. Having a strict deadline can help you not only plan for end-of-year donations but can also give you insight into how you want to contribute to charitable causes in the year to come.

Aim to Do the Most Good

Donating to charities around the holidays is a good idea no matter where you send your money or belongs, but in order to have the greatest impact, it is important that you consider who really needs help and how you can make a difference. You might consider contributing to local charities to make a direct impact on your community. You could also learn about the demographics that are most vulnerable and disenfranchised during this time of year; homeless populations and children, especially those with parents in prison or who live in poverty, are two groups that stand to benefit from your support. By thinking critically about how you can make a difference, you can make your donations count even more.

Do Your Research

Before writing a check, it is important for donors to research the charities they are considering. Using online tools like GuideStar and Charity Navigator provides vital information about charities including their areas of involvement and, in the case of Charity Navigator, ratings that take into account factors like transparency and accountability. Other sites like GreatNonProfits.org provide reviews from users to give a more personal and subjective perspective. By using the tools available, donors can identify reputable charities that align with their priorities and help such organizations during the holiday season.

Consider QCD’s

A QCD is a Qualified Charitable Distribution. It is a direct transfer of funds from your IRA into a qualified charity. A QCD does not require you to itemize your deductions, and they generally are reported to your IRA custodian as a normal distribution. If you do itemize your deductions, you cannot claim QCD as a deduction, since your charitable distribution has already been excluded from your taxable income. 

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