Americans are probably the most generous people in the history of the world. This past year, individuals contributed more than $250 billion to charitable organizations. As the end of the year approaches, gift giving reaches a fever pitch. By some estimates, almost 40 percent of Americans’ charitable giving occurs in the last two months of the year. Here are a few things to consider when making a list for gift giving in 2013 that might help quench a desire to be charitable, too.
The stock market has had a good run, thus any appreciated assets can be donated to your favorite charitable organization. You might benefit by avoiding up to 20 percent of the appreciated value in capital gains taxes. This could enable you to be more generous with traditional gift giving. You should always consult your tax advisor about these types of gifts.
Your parents have everything they need, but they are increasingly interested in a particular charity. Rather than purchase a traditional gift, you should consider a gift to their favorite charity. Special note: you should always give this type of gift to a charity the honoree is interested in.
If you don’t have financial resources to give, you might consider making a gift of volunteer hours, or donating something more precious like blood to the Red Cross or becoming a prospective bone marrow or organ donor. This could be especially meaningful if the donor has benefitted from one of these services.
There are other ways to support nonprofits and satisfy your holiday gift list, too. Purchase a museum or zoo membership for someone you know who will enjoy it, or buy that special someone a gift from a gift shop or retail outlet operated by a charitable organization. In the local market, gift shops operated by EdVenture, Columbia Museum of Art, Riverbanks and DJJ’s Store of Hope come to mind.
Finally, if you just want to make an anonymous gift that can change a life forever, seek out a youth counselor at a local church, school, scout troop or sports league and offer to sponsor a child for a sports season, a year of scouting or a youth retreat from a family that is struggling financially. This might be the most satisfying gift you have ever made.
American society is often reminded that to whom much is given, much is expected. Make your gifts count in 2013!