It's not too late to make charitable gifts in 2014. Here are some tips to get it done efficiently:
- Review your finances and your 2014 charitable giving to determine the gift amount and form of gift you want to make.
- Identify an issue you want to help make better and find a nonprofit that addresses the topic. Do a quick check of the organization on the Internet. You may also increase your gift to a nonprofit you already know and trust.
- Make sure any recipient of your giving is a qualified nonprofit registered with the IRS. You can check with the IRS Select Check tool if you are unsure whether the organization has 501(c)3 status.
- Get your check in the mail or charged on a credit card before the end of 2014.
- Make sure you gain a proof of donation. You can use a receipt, a charge card statement, or a canceled check. If your gift is higher than $250 for a single donation, the nonprofit is required to send you an official acknowledgement.
Checks and charge cards are only a couple of the ways to give to charitable causes, even this late in the year. You can also open a Donor Advised Fund by Dec. 31 and use the deduction in this year. To learn more about your options with Donor Advised Funds, see my previous articles.
If you give highly appreciated stocks, bonds, or mutual funds directly to a nonprofit or a Donor Advised Fund, you create three benefits at once. First, you will avoid the tax on capital gains that you would have to pay if you sold those investments. Second, you can deduct the full market value of the investment as a charitable gift, potentially reducing your tax burden. And third, your gift can make a real difference in the world.
It's not too late, but it's almost the 11th hour, so act now.
Fool contributor Mark Ewert is as serious about charitable giving as you are about investing, so he wants to help Fool readers to be skillful givers. You can purchase his new book, The Generosity Path: Finding the Richness in Giving, through his website or at your local bookstore.