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4 Real Estate-Related Charities to Support This Holiday Season

[Updated: Dec 01, 2020] Dec 01, 2020 by Marc Rapport
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The holidays are the time to count our blessings and share them when we can. In a broad sense, Millionacres focuses on the second of these two basic needs -- food and shelter -- and we wanted to take this opportunity to highlight some ways anyone who feels the urge can give back.

While the new standard tax deduction ($12,400 for single taxpayers, $24,800 for joint filers) means deducting charitable contributions is not as important for many people as it used to be -- since fewer people are actually itemizing -- the contributions themselves are significant, especially now with the pandemic causing so much economic misery for millions of American families.

The CARES Act, in fact, recognizes that and has included a new $300 deduction that you can take in your 2020 return along with that standard deduction. And, as the Tax Foundation reports, even with far less itemizing going on, 2019 saw Americans contribute nearly $450 billion to charitable causes, the second-highest amount ever.

So, without further ado, here are four real-estate related charities from among many worthy of consideration this holiday season. Each supports a different cause or causes, but all share long records of service and scores of 90 to a perfect 100 in the Encompass Rating System from Charity Navigator.

Habitat for Humanity International

Habitat for Humanity was founded in 1976 in rural Georgia and remains closely affiliated with former President and First Lady Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter, who to this day are active in the movement that has spread to more than 70 countries and helped more than 35 million people obtain safe, affordable homes. That’s either through new construction or renovations and includes more than 5.9 million people this year alone.

Habitat chapters are now spread all over the country and world, giving well-vetted families the opportunity to own their home through sweat equity and the help of volunteers -- amateurs and professionals -- who donate their own time and labor to raise those roofs.

Donate online here.

Realtors Relief Foundation

The Realtors Relief Foundation is a charitable arm of the 1.4 million-member National Association of Realtors and has one goal: “help families who have endured unimaginable loss.”

A current focus is a $1 million commitment to helping meet the immediate housing needs for victims of the recent California wildfires. The foundation says it distributes 100% of its funds to disaster relief on as-needed basis as determined by its directors but adds this caveat on its donation page: “The Foundation cannot guarantee donors that donations made in response to a particular disaster will be used for that specific disaster.”

Unfortunately, there are enough disasters to go around.

Donate online here.

Volunteers of America

Founded in 1896, Volunteers of America has grown into one of the nation’s largest developers of affordable housing, with 484 properties providing housing to more than 25,000 people in 40 states and Puerto Rico. That includes large urban complexes, small rural developments, elderly housing, multifamily housing, and housing for those with disabilities.

The organization’s 16,000 employees also help provide a range of other services -- including mental health, homeless, and correctional re-entry services -- to nearly 1.5 million people in 400 communities across the country each year.

VOA also is now partnering with corporate and philanthropic investors in social impact funds that focus on housing, health, and innovative enterprises that support the economic stability of America’s families.

Donate online here.

Lutheran Immigration Refugee Service

Welcoming "huddled masses yearning to breathe free" is as American as the Statue of Liberty, and since 1939, Lutheran Immigration Refugee Service (LIRS) has been there for decades to help new Americans find safe housing and other resettlement services.

Immigrants have come in waves to the U.S. since the founding of the republic, and LIRS has greeted new arrivals, including from Germany and Eastern Europe after World War II, Hungary in 1956, Cuba in 1959, Vietnam in 1975, the Balkans in the 1990s, and more, including work by their local affiliates, such as helping a group of Somalians resettle here in Columbia, South Carolina, about 20 years ago.

"Over many years, we have seen firsthand how new Americans contribute to a vibrant and resilient society, culturally, politically, and economically," LIRS says on its website. That includes renting and buying real estate, of course, for those who take the opportunity to pursue their new American dream.

Donate online here.

The Millionacres bottom line

Doing the right thing, in this case supporting causes you consider worthy, does more than make you feel good while helping others and maybe get a tax break in the process. A thriving real estate market -- retail, office, residential, you name it –--depends on a healthy community to support it. For that reason alone, it makes sense to invest in organizations that help lift up the most vulnerable.

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