How to Make the Most of Your Giving This Holiday

Sponsored by: Central Carolina Community Foundation

Donations from America’s individuals, estates, foundations and corporations reached an estimated $373.25 billion in 2015, setting a record for the second year in a row.

Charitable giving is good, but smart charitable giving is even better. Here are some ways to maximize your giving this holiday season to make the biggest impact.

1. Pick your passion

Supporting a cause that you actually care about will make your choice to donate easier and feel more personal. You may even feel inclined to donate a larger amount than originally intended.

Focus on the change you want to create in your community. Then, support a qualified organization that checks all your boxes. If you’re looking to support education, for example, look for groups that help students go to college or provide book to children learning to read. Other popular charitable interests include animal welfare, medical research, community development, health and human services and the environment.

2. Thoroughly research organizations before giving

You want to make sure your donations are being used effectively and legitimately. So, before you give, ask about the organization’s tax exempt status since only donations to qualified, IRS-approved organizations are tax deductible. You find this information by reviewing the organization’s Form 990, the nonprofit tax return.

You can also check out a nonprofit’s ratings regarding financial spending, transparency and more on websites like, or

3. Double your impact with company matching

Look to see if your employer participates in donation matching. Over half of Fortune 500 companies match employee donations, yet only an average of 9 percent of employees participate in matching gift programs, leaving $6 to $10 billion in matching gift funds unclaimed every year, according to an estimate by Double the Donation. These billions of unused dollars could have had a profound impact for nonprofits and your community.

4. Concentrate your giving

Instead of spreading your donation amount among various organizations, consider donating it all to one or two. A few well-placed larger donations often go farther and have the potential to do more good than a wide array of smaller gifts. Keep in mind that each organization has handling and processing costs ranging from 3 to 10 percent that are deducted from your gift, so large donation leave more for programming.

5. Itemize your deductions

A tax deduction for charitable giving isn't guaranteed simply because you're feeling generous. Whether you donate online, in person or opt for a payroll deduction, make sure to keep your receipts. Deductions, regardless of the amount, must be substantiated by a bank record or receipt. If you make a contribution by payroll deduction, you must retain a pay stub, form W-2 or other document provided by your employer.

To claim a charitable deduction on your tax return, you need to itemize your deductions using these receipts. You report itemized deductions on Schedule A on your federal form 1040 using lines 16-19.

Give smarter this holiday season with tools and resources from Central Carolina Community Foundation.

Central Carolina Community Foundation is a nonprofit organization that links charitable people and businesses with areas of need in the community. The Midlands' expert on philanthropy, their mission is to promote, facilitate, and increase philanthropy to create a sustainable impact within the community through responsible giving. In the past 5 years, the Community Foundation and their donors together awarded over $63 million in grants to nonprofit organizations.

For more information about the Foundation, visit at or call 803.254.5601.