umb skin1 Web Content Viewer

umb skin2 Actions

How to give back this holiday season

Date posted:  11/8/16 01:15:00 PM Find the perfect way to give back this holiday season.

The holidays are a special time of year when many individuals decide to give to others. If you and your family are interested in ways to give back, plan ahead and conduct the appropriate research to figure out how you can have the most impact.

Clean out your closets
One way you can easily give to others is by donating items you no longer use, noted U.S. News & World Report. Clean out your closets, attic and toy box to find items you can give to those who are less fortunate.

However, make sure whatever you donate still works properly and is in good condition. Avoid donating broken toys or destroyed clothing by inspecting everything before you donate.

Provide a more significant tip for service industry workers
Money Crashers noted that many professionals who work in the service industry spend a great deal of time and energy providing for others, and they often have to handle criticism and frustration from customers. If you are planning on heading out for a holiday dinner or lunch, tip a little extra this season to let your server know you appreciate the service.

Over tipping can often be an affordable and easy way to give to another person.

Give to a charity
Another way you can provide for others this holiday season is by making a charitable donation. In 2015, Americans gave an estimated $373.3 billion, according to the National Philanthropic Trust.

Be aware of potential scams
While many operations truly work toward a cause or goal, some criminals take advantage of the goodwill and generosity of others. In some instances, money given to a charity may be funneled toward other causes or to individuals profiting from the donations.

Ralph Summerford, a forensic accountant, told CNBC that the IRS typically does not evaluate charitable organizations because they do not pay taxes. Scammers will often use a name that is similar to a legitimate charity to acquire donations.

"Just like with phone and email fraud, never give a gift where you didn't initiate the communication," noted Meisenheimer, according to CNBC. "If you're giving online, make sure that you see the 'https' at the beginning of the Web address so that it's a secure link and your information is not compromised."

Conduct ample research
Before donating to an organization or cause, research with your family to determine the legitimacy of a charity and to gain a deeper understanding of how your money will be used to further a particular cause.

Investigating various charities together also provides an opportunity for you and your family to learn additional ways you can give. This may prompt you to begin a savings account during the year to use toward a specific cause next holiday season.

Volunteer your time
In some instances, the holidays are not an ideal time to give monetary gifts to others. Many families are faced with substantial bills and expenses during the holiday season. However, that doesn't mean you can't give to others. Instead of donating money, set aside time to volunteer in your community, like at a local meal program or homeless shelter.

Volunteering provides you and your family with an opportunity to bond with others and broaden your awareness regarding issues affecting your neighborhood. From hunger to mental illness, there are many issues that individuals deal with every day. Becoming aware of the problems and finding ways to alleviate the impact they have on others promotes a healthier and happier society.

Understand tax benefits
If you donate money, do not feel selfish about seeking a tax deduction. In many instances, receiving money back with a tax refund means you will have more funds available to do additional work for others. Talk with your tax professional to determine the best ways to track and record your donations for tax purposes.

This holiday season, you can give to others in a variety of ways. Choose a method that best suits you and your family.