5 Ways To Give Back Without Breaking The Bank This Holiday Season

11/29/2017 01:51 pm ET

This year-end giving season is unlike any other.

Annually, 31% of giving occurs during December. However, this year, donors are already fatigued. Hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and wildfires caused over $15 billion in damage as of October. Puerto Ricans have been living without full power since Hurricane Maria hit the island in September. Wildfires took the lives of 42 people, injured 7,700, and burned over 8,400 homes and buildings. Hurricane Harvey flooded Texas, dumping 27 trillion gallons of rain and leaving an estimated 30,000 people needing temporary shelter. As if that weren’t enough, violent tragedies in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs rocked the nation.

As is tradition, Americans rise up and come together to support those in need, with an outpouring of generosity to rebuild lives and communities.

Meanwhile, the House and Senate are working to pass a bill that could have devastating effects on the number of Americans eligible to write off charitable giving as a tax deduction. Of highest concern is doubling the standard deduction limit currently in place for taxpayers. According to IRS data, this would remove the tax incentive for an estimated $95 billion of annual charitable giving and reduce the number of itemizers from one-third of Americans to about five percent. This could reduce charitable giving by as much as $20 billion.

With all the needs in our country (and world), we can’t afford to lose billions in charitable giving. Now is the time to support the causes that matter most to you.

This year, consider these five ways to give without breaking the bank:

1) Donate through your company. Give through your company’s workplace giving campaign or set up your own holiday-themed give now page and encourage coworkers and your extended network to contribute.

2) Give other people’s money. Thousands of companies across the United States (and internationally) offer matching gift programs -- a corporate charitable gift that matches an employee’s donation of money and sometimes even volunteer hours. Don’t miss out if your employer offers you free money for charity.

3) Donate in-kind. Give your gently used clothing, toys, furniture, and household items to Salvation Army—you can even schedule a convenient pick-up. Many other charities accept in-kind donations as well: American Cancer Society runs Discovery Shops that accept clothing, accessories, and household items; St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital accepts children’s toys; and Easterseals recycles old laptops, cell phones, and other technology. You can also donate vehicles, boats, stock, and more. Talk to your tax advisor about deductibility.

4) Give your time. Use Community Health Charities’ Volunteer on the Spot toolkit for easy, onsite activities like creating hygiene kits, making blankets or cards for sick children and veterans, or holding office supply drives. Or, find volunteer opportunities online by zip code or keyword.

5) Give to the Combined Federal Campaign. Federal and military employees have a long history—more than 50 years—of leadership and generosity, making the Combined Federal Campaign the largest giving campaign in the world. The campaign runs through January this year.

And the list goes on. Get creative about giving back. Rake leaves or shovel a neighbor’s driveway. Invite college students or single friends to join your family holiday meal. Send appreciation notes. Make or bake gifts for coworkers.

Giving season is a great time to focus on what you’re thankful for and take action by giving back to improve lives and make a difference. Together, we can fight to cure childhood cancer with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, end Alzheimer’s with Alzheimer’s Association, attack cancer from every angle with American Cancer Society, help those struggling with mental health issues, and much more, supporting thousands of the most trusted charities. The result is stronger, healthier people and communities, all year long.

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