Consumer Wise: Being charitable at the end of the year

By Angie Moreschi, Consumer Wise Host
Last Updated: Tuesday, December 27, 2016, 6:36 AM EST

Families in need often turn to organizations like Metropolitan Ministries to get help with food, clothing, and other services.  It can be a life-saver for people like Marielena who has three young children and another on the way.

  • When thinking of donating, research organizations
  • Websites like Charity Navigator, Guide Star can be very helpful
  • Be sure to get receipts for donations

“I was to the point where I was gonna end up staying in my car,” Marielena said.  “That’s how bad it was.”

Now, she’s back on track getting her education and able to care for her kids.

“They really lift you up,” she said.  “We get fed three times a day. We get childcare and there’s always things to do. There’s activities for the kids.”

Like so many non-profits, Metropolitan Ministries depends on donations to help people year round, not just during the holidays.

“Hunger doesn’t take a holiday, doesn’t take a vacation,” Metropolitan Ministries President and CEO Tim Marks said.

Do your research

Whether you donate to those in financial need, medical research, veterans, whichever charity you choose it’s always a good idea to do a little research on the organization. Websites like Charity Navigator and Guide Star help you do that. You can check a charity’s rating and find out how much of what you donate actually goes to providing services, rather than overhead.

Be sure to get a receipt for your donation, whether it’s money, services, or property, like clothing or furniture.

“There’s still a lot of need out there and that’s the number one reason to consider end of year giving,” Marks said.

December donations make all the difference in those lean months, so you can feel good not only about saving on your taxes, but also helping those in need.

“It made me a lot more stronger,” Marielena said.  “I’m not as down as I used to be. There’s hope.”

Get your check in the mail by Dec. 31

As long as you get your check in the mail and postmarked by the last day of the year, your donation will be counted towards your 2016 taxes. And if you charge a donation on your credit card, it DOES count for the year in which you charged it, even if you pay the bill next year.

Click here for more information on the tax benefits of giving from Charity Navigator.

And click here for more information from the IRS on charitable contribution deductions.