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Non-Profit Donations: How Maximize Your Giving Impact This Holiday Season

Individuals, foundations, and businesses gave nearly $450 billion in 2019, one of the highest years for giving on record, according to Giving USA. Thanksgiving through New Year's Eve is one of the most popular times for donations, kicking off with "Giving Tuesday," a global generosity movement the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. Whether your budget allows you to donate $10 or $10,000 this year, these are some tips to help maximize the impact of your charitable giving.

Hands holding the word Donate.

Select reputable charities that make an impact.

With more than 1.54 million charities in the United States, according to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, there are plenty of options to choose from. Whether you're passionate about children's literacy, cancer research, or wildlife conservation, consider researching your different giving options to better understand how your donation will be used and the impact your donation will have. You may wish to check the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance, which evaluates and rates charities based on 20 standards for accountability, including governance and oversight, finances, and the accuracy of public information.

Another helpful resource is Charity Navigator, an online vetting tool that analyzes how nonprofits spend their charitable contributions each year. In addition to providing transparency into a nonprofit's annual budget, Charity Navigator recently launched a new initiative evaluating donation impact. To assess a nonprofit's impact, Charity Navigator looks at publicly available information to estimate the impact a program has on someone's life and the cost for this impact.

If you are unfamiliar with an organization but interested in supporting its programs, Wise Giving Alliance and Charity Navigator can give you an unbiased overview and also suggest similar nonprofits that may have a greater impact in the same field.

Consider donating needed items to local, community-based groups.

Want to be sure your donation goes directly to your community? Many local organizations could benefit from new or gently used items — as long as these items match up with their needs. Some nonprofits maintain Amazon Wish Lists so you can purchase and ship items that the nonprofit urgently needs, such as personal care products or new bedding. You can also contact a community group directly to ask about their most-needed donation items.

Maximize your impact with matching employer contributions.

Many companies offer "corporate matching gifts," a type of giving where the company financially matches the donation an employee makes to an eligible nonprofit. Rules vary between companies, but eligible nonprofits typically include educational institutions, community organizations, and arts and cultural organizations.

Matching gift donations are an easy way to maximize philanthropy impact. For example, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society receives more than $1 million in matching donations annually, according to Double The Donation. Despite the important impact of matching donation programs, many employees are not aware that these options exist at their company. Most matching requests must be submitted within the calendar year the donation was made, so check with your employer about program eligibility to increase the impact of your gift.

Give the gift of time.

If your budget is tight this year, you can still give back by volunteering your time. From soup kitchens to park clean-up days, volunteering your time can make a tremendous impact on your local community.

Family in the kitchen.

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