Five tips for charitable giving this holiday season

Giving TipsThe holiday season is a wonderful time of year and as much as 40% of all charitable giving nationwide occurs during this time period.  So before you respond to a solicitation, please consider the following tips:

  1. Research – Research the charity or program before considering a gift. Unfortunately, there are individuals who take advantage of your generosity during the holiday season. However, websites like guidestar.org can help you verify the legitimate tax status of an organization and provide access to IRS provided tax returns and other financial information.
  2. Ask Questions – Know what your gift will support. Legitimate, well-run charities welcome the opportunity to discuss how your gift will help and will gladly provide information on the impact of your gift. If an organization cannot tell you how your gift is being used, then you should feel comfortable saying no.
  3. Set a Limit – Don’t stretch your own pocketbook in the name of generosity. One of our priorities as an organization is to help individuals obtain and maintain financial stability. Our hope is for families to live within their means, including giving within their means. There are many ways to help a local organization or make a community a better place to live. In fact, you can find many local volunteer opportunities at Get Connected.
  4. Think Local – Consider support for local programs. At United Way, we believe in the power of community and feel the greatest gift you can make is one that leaves your community a better place to work, live and raise children. When you give local, your gift stays in our community, supports our neighbors, strengthens our economy and creates local jobs. You can find profiles of many, if not most, of our local charities on our volunteer website, Get Connected. Simply visit our website, springfieldunitedway.org and click on volunteer.
  5. Teach – Involve your children by teaching them about importance of community, philanthropy and volunteering. Teach them not to judge others, but to seek to understand the challenges others may be facing.

Finally, remember that the needs of our community extend beyond the end of the year. Although your generosity is deeply appreciated during the holiday season, the needs of our community exist year-round. If you are considering a year-end gift to a local organization, consider the value of establishing a monthly (or per paycheck) gift.