December 18, 2013 - The Christmas and Chanukkah season is a time for joy with the gathering of friends and family. But it can also be a time of anxiety. For me it is the anxiety of shopping to pick out that gift that my immediate family might enjoy.
Putting aside young children and needy friends and family, at some point your loved ones pretty much have what they need or can buy what they don't have. That sweater or electronic gizmo you buy at the mall and wrap in the pretty paper may soon be forgotten. Make it easy on yourself and consider making a donation in their honor to a charity. There's still plenty of time to write a check or go online to use a charity's donation website to give something unique and special to your loved ones and thereby give something needed to someone else for the holiday season.
Many charities offer websites to make it easy to donate in honor of those special people in your life. These websites can notify your special person by direct mail that you made a donation in their name. Others enable you to print an acknowledgment that can be enclosed in a holiday card. Since these organization encourage contributions like yours, they are not likely to abuse the information you give them by sending you future unsolicited requests for money or publications. Typically, there is a check off box to elect if you want to be further contacted.
When making donations, consider whether you want to support the national parent organization or your local affiliate. Sometimes money is pooled among the organizational family - other times it isn't. You have to give this some thought after a little research. Some organizations like hospitals provide for intra-specialty areas of donation such as the emergency room, cancer treatment, senior care or childrens' service, etc.
When making a donation, beware of charities with confusingly similar names. You may intend to support a particular charity with a contribution but your money may end up in the wrong hands.Ask questions and do some research from the convenience of computer. When researching charities consider using one of the websites below as a starting point to determine if in fact the charity is registered with a state or federal government. Some of these sites also indicate how much money is raised by these organizations, what their overhead is and you will then realize how much is left to go to the intended purpose of the contribution.
Your holiday gift donation may also be tax deductible. A contribution to a "not for profit" organization does not guarantee that it is deductible for income tax purposes. So take a break, make a charitable donation in honor of a loved one and finish your holiday shopping at the same time.
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