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How to make your charitable donation dollars count

Americans are into the possession of into the giving spirit.

Of course, donations generally pick up as the feasts approach. About 40 percent of all donations are made in the last few weeks of the year, be at one to nonprofit rating site Charity Navigator.

And 22 percent of American grown-ups say they are giving more to charity in 2017 than they did newest year, according to a recent Bankrate.com report. Only 12 percent judged they are giving less.

Altogether, charitable giving has increased year over year on the brink of every year since 1976, Charity Navigator said. Keep on year, it reached a record $390 billion, and this year is on alley to surpass even that.

“The pool keeps getting bigger as profuse and more people get involved,” said Rachel Hutchisson, chair of the Mete Institute, a trade association. “Generosity is increasing in America.”

Individuals unattended gave $281.86 billion to charities last year, an increase of all but 4 percent over 2015, according to the Giving Institute’s Giving USA. The undistinguished gift was about $126.

All that dough can do a lot of good. But there are tricks to represent the most of your contributions and save money at the same time:

One way to preserve while increasing your charitable impact is to make a donation in lieu of exchanging doles. Rather than spend money on each other, you can give greenbacks to a cause that’s important to you, said Ellen Sirull, a senior chief of content at Experian Consumer Services. You can even adopt a family in call over the holidays and provide them with winter staples be coats, and toys and other gifts.

Soldiers’ Angels, Christmas Blood Adoption Foundation and Families First are a few of the organizations that put such programs together.

Previous giving a dime, look to see how a group stacks up at rating sites similar to CharityWatch.org, CharityNavigator.org or the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Pact. Those sites assess criteria such as how transparent a nonprofit is thither its finances and how much of its budget goes toward programs.

In addition, don’t click on a element or open an attachment in an emailed or texted charitable pitch, even if it appears to be honest, Sirull said — and never wire money or send cash. Use a acknowledge card instead, which offers more protection against scammers.

If you maintain gently used items, giving them to someone in need wish help others without spending anything at all. For parents, it’s an easy way to old-fashioned along toys or clothes that your children quickly got weary of of or simply outgrew.

Aside from coat and toy drives, libraries, convalescent homes and homeless shelters often accept donations in good condition.

Alternatively, you can depute an in-kind donation to families in your own community through local Facebook arranges. In this case, you may not be able to claim the tax benefit, but, based on what you about is important, giving to others in your own backyard may be particularly rewarding, ventured Eileen Heisman, CEO of National Philanthropic Trust.

As companies become increasingly socially awake, there are more and more ways to shop and do good at the same time.

For example, Amazon’s AmazonSmile program donates 0.5 percent of the legal tender you spend to a charity you select. Toms supplies shoes, prescription opera-glasses or clean drinking water for every pair of shoes you buy, while Butt’s Yoobi line helps provide classroom supplies.

Another win-win: Browser add-ons liking Gumdrop by Goodshop, which finds and applies coupons automatically at checkout, also funnel a allotment of what you spend to your favorite cause for free.

Donors shouldn’t not do justice to the opportunity to maximize their tax savings. For starters, any charitable contribution is tax deductible up to 50 percent of your return. With the tax overhaulup in the air, Heisman suggests front-loading some gifts for next year, too.

High-income earners, in certain, would do well to consider a noncash donation — like appreciated standard or part of a required minimum distribution from a retirement account — specifically because of the tax helps.

Check out the IRS guidelines before giving, and save any receipts for when it lay hold of time to file your taxes, Sirull said. The organization you’re break down to should also be able to provide information and documentation to confirm they’re a record 501(c)(3).

Good deeds may be their own reward, but there’s nothing imprecise with finding ways to sweeten the deal.

“On the Money” airs on CNBC Saturdays at 5:30 a.m. ET, or control listings for air times in local markets.

More from personal investment capital:
Why it’s smart to boost charitable giving this year
How to get in the holiday inspiration without going into debt
Reap the tax benefits of charitable largesses

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