It’s that time of the year again: with the leftover turkey chilling in the fridge and the fall decorations quickly turned into holiday cheer, all signs point to shopping and sugarplums.
But even with the overwhelm of parties to attend, cookies to be baked, and shopping to be done, we can’t ignore one major aspect of the holiday season: giving back.
Paying it forward
While the season is ripe for showing friends, family, and clients how much we appreciate having them in our lives, it’s also a great time to pay our good fortunes forward to the non-profits, community organizations, and individuals working to make a difference at home and abroad.
It’s a guiding principle for us here at WorthPointe, and it’s something equally as important to many of our clients.
But what few realize is exactly how powerful your donation can be — both in terms of maximizing a monetary donation, and in finding other ways to donate that don’t require writing a check.
Maximizing your charitable contributions
While the essence of giving back is unbelievably simple — to make a difference for those who need it — there are ways that you can maximize your impact to benefit both the charity you’re giving to, as well as your end-of-year tax reports. Here are three ways to start:
- Research the impact of the organization. First and foremost, it’s important that you understand where your donation is going. We love using sites like Charity Navigator and GuideStar to see how effective organizations truly are — and how much of our monetary donation is going to make it to respectable causes, rather than overhead.
- Find matches. Perhaps the best way to expand the reach of your donation is by capitalizing on someone else’s efforts: identify times when other individuals or businesses are putting up a match for every dollar you donate. Even better? Consider being the match. When NPR runs its annual campaign, individuals and businesses can sign up to match up to a certain amount on an hourly basis, giving it parameters but allowing the matcher to make a significant contribution.
- Pay attention to deductions. While none of us love tax time, we do love the respect the IRS has for charitable contributions and the deductions we have potential to take advantage of. From monetary contributions to donated property (yes, even those clothes that no longer fit!), the IRS generally allows you to deduct “up to 50 percent of your adjusted gross income”, while 20 and 30 percent limitations are sometimes in effect. The most important thing you can do? Itemize your donations as far down as you can. Just like the organizations we give to, we ourselves have to be as transparent as possible.
Finding opportunities to give back
There’s no doubt that once the craze of Black Friday and Cyber Monday is over, you’ll soon be flooded with emails and snail mail asking for your generous donation (and now you know how to make the most of it). But writing a check and emptying your closet aren’t the only ways to give back. Here are a few others:
Give your time: As a busy parent, business owner, and friend, we have no doubt that you’re the first person who realizes exactly how valuable your time is. That’s what makes it such an incredible gift to give. Local food banks, schools, and hospitals are great places to start when looking for somewhere to donate your time and presence.
Give your skill: Just as valuable as your money and your time is lending your knowledge to those who can use it. Are you a fantastic event planner? Volunteer to organize a local charity’s annual gala. Can’t get enough of spreadsheets? Offer to help a local organization with its accounting. Make it fun: WorthPointe’s brand manager, Klair, is a former professional ballroom dancer who donates her time to the Center for Child Protection each year by participating in their annual Dance with the Stars competition.
If ideas aren’t immediately coming to mind, don’t fret. If you’re in the San Diego or Austin areas, here are a few opportunities you might want to take advantage of (in which case, give us a shout and we might just join you!):
- Host a meal at the Ronald McDonald House: on a quarterly basis, you can find the team from WorthPointe — along with our vendors and clientele — donning chef hats and plating a full-service dinner at our local Ronald McDonald Houses in both Austin and San Diego. From recruiting volunteers (want to join us?) to grocery shopping and cooking to clean up, we love putting a smile on our diners’ faces.
- Operation Turkey: help feed Austin’s homeless by donating money (a $5 check helps feed two homeless people!) or giving your time by volunteering to cook, package, deliver, or sort donations. You might just see a WorthPointe employee (or a few) there this holiday season.
- Toys for Tots: while you’re out shopping for your children, nieces, nephews, and grandkids, pick up an extra toy or two and drop it off at one of the various locations around town — they’re plentiful. Find yours at the Toys for Tots site.
- Volunteer for a board: local not-for-profits and organizations need advisement on issues from finance to event planning and operations to marketing. Lend your expertise by volunteering for a chair on a board or committee. Tie to a cause you care about: WP’s Scott O’Brien, CFP, is a Board Member for the Center for Child Protection.
This is just the short list. Opportunities abound, and we highly encourage you to poke around and see what lights you up. Use a site like Catchafire to find local matches based on your skills, while VolunteerMatch connects you to causes you care about.
Still not sure? Ask your friends, family, vendors, and clients where they’d love to see you donate your money, time, or skill. It’s how we’ve come across some of our favorite causes and organizations, like Kinder4Rescue and The First Tee of Greater Austin.
It’s simply better business
A reminder we can’t help but share: while giving back is top of mind during this season, we highly recommend you make it part of your life, year round, in some way, shape, or form.
Keeping a pay-it-forward attitude all year round helps us foster a culture of caring here at WorthPointe, giving our employees a greater sense of satisfaction at both work and home. Taking it even further, it’s a way for us to connect on an even deeper level with our clients, understanding what causes and charities they care about, and helping them make an impact in our communities.
Join us in taking on a giving back attitude this December, and always. And let us know if you want to join us as we serve up dinner at the Ronald McDonald House. As they say: the more, the merrier!
Click here to learn more about WorthPointe’s involvement within the local community.
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