It seems that everywhere you turn, someone is asking for a donation. There are plenty of good causes out there, but there is no way for you to give to all of them — especially if your finances are tight. Instead of spreading your money thin, consider ways that you can maximize your charitable contributions so that they have a bigger impact. You might have to make some hard choices, but if you focus your priorities, you will find that you can really help accomplish some good.
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One of the best ways to maximize your charitable contributions is to decide to give to causes and organizations that have a bigger impact, or that show their effectiveness. In order to figure out which charities are spending more on charitable programs (rather than paying huge salaries to executives), and which charities are using their resources more efficiently, you can turn to Charity Navigator.
Charity Navigator can help you figure out where your dollars will do the most good — and have more of an impact. Before you give, do a little research. Your money will go further if you give it to a charity that manages its funds well.
You can also look around your neighborhood for charitable giving ideas. Sometimes, you can see a bigger impact when you give to local charities. You can see the effects in your community every day. Consider local food banks, shelters and other charities. Smaller, community-based charities can make a huge difference locally — and provide you with a way to maximize your contributions. Look around your community and identify active charities that are involved and effective.
While your financial donations are definitely going to be appreciated, it is worth noting that you can maximize your charitable contributions in other ways as well. You don’t have to stick with just money. For those who might not have the financial resources to donate as much as they would like, being able to give in other ways can provide a real boost. Some of the ways that you can boost your charitable contributions without the need for money include:
Not only can a little planning help you maximize your contributions to charities, but it can also ensure that you have your own financial benefit. Remember that your charitable efforts can be tax-deductible, reducing your income and what you owe.
You can, of course, deduct your financial contributions. You can also deduct the market value of goods that you donate — as long as they are in good shape. Make sure you get a receipt for the donation of money and goods. You can also deduct the mileage you drive as part of your charity work. For 2011, the amount was 14 cents per mile. Keep a good record of your mileage driven for charity, and use it to maximize your deductions.
Can you think of any other good ways to maximize your charitable contributions? Please share your story.