3 things to remember when donating to a nonprofit

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submitted by Joe Beckford

While some people may limit their definition of "donation" to money, Merriam-Webster says it's about "making a gift of" something.  So whether you're giving financially or giving your time, if you're giving, you're donating. And according to the Philanthropy Roundtable, you're also in good company. 67 percent of American households give charitably and 45 percent volunteer. But however you're choosing to be generous, there are some tips you should consider if you're wanting to maximize your impact.

1. Automate Your Giving

You may start the year with ambitious plans to make a sizable donation to cause you care about. As the months pass by, unexpected expenses pop-up, as they tend to do, and that lump sum gets smaller and smaller. By December, you're giving far less than you planned, if at all.

If that's you, consider automating a smaller weekly gift. Instead of $5,200 once-a-year, set-up a recurring weekly donation of a $100. Whether given as a lump sum or in smaller portions, the nonprofit will appreciate your support.

2. Check Out Your Charity 

While it's certainly important to make sure the nonprofit you support is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3), you should also evaluate how well they steward their resources. Charity Navigator let's you check out the nonprofit's budget, key leadership and other important factors that affect how accountable and transparent they are, as well as how effective they're being with your donation.

3. Write-Off Your Miles

Did you know that every time you drive somewhere to volunteer, you can write-off the mileage? As of 2018, every mile can be written-off at the rate of 14 cents per mile. It might not sound like a lot, but if you drive 10 miles each way once a week, that's almost $150 of exempted income. So start keeping track today.

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Wherever and however you choose to invest, the reward is in the act of giving itself. But that shouldn't stop you from being savvy with your generosity. So plan ahead. Choose wisely. Keep track. Three simple steps that can make a world of difference in your difference-making.

Joe Beckford