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3 Ways to Give Back This Season

November 24, 2021 by Chevron Federal Credit Union

The weeks following Thanksgiving aren’t only about holiday shopping. It’s giving season, too. Whether it’s your time, skills or a physical donation, there are many ways to spread generosity in your community — along with the good cheer. Here are three ideas to spark your end-of-the-year giving power.

1. Donate funds where they’re needed most

Data shows that Americans’ charitable contributions rose to record levels in the last year, and 84% of us intend to donate the same or even more this year. Health care, food insecurity, housing instability and social justice causes led much of donors’ focus in 2020. While the pandemic’s impact continues to put these concerns at the forefront, the greatest needs in your local area may differ.

To help direct your donations, check out the Nonprofit Aid Visualizer (NAVi) developed by Vanguard Charitable. It’s a detailed, interactive map platform so you can search for needs that align with your giving intentions and causes. By choosing state, city, county, zip code or address, you can filter results for nonprofits that continue to be most affected by the pandemic — letting you see where your giving may have the most impact today.

Remember that donations made by Dec. 31 can net you a tax deduction on the return you’ll file next April. Under a temporary law change, even if you don’t itemize, you can write off cash donations to qualifying charities in 2021 up to $600 if you’re married and file a joint return, or $300 if you’re filing an individual or head-of-household return.

2. Give your time through acts of service

Do you already have a cause that you feel passionate about? You can likely find worthy service opportunities through places and relationships you’re already a part of, such as work, church, your children’s school, your county’s network of nonprofit and public agencies — maybe within your own neighborhood.

But have you heard of Giving Tuesday? Taking place each year on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving, this now-global movement seeks to transform communities with its concept of “radical generosity.” Founded on the belief that everyone has something to give, it encourages all of us to take a day (or more) to make a difference — big or small — in others’ lives. Use this map (scroll down) to connect with Giving Tuesday in your city, town or state.

Want to explore the current, up-to-the-minute range of volunteer needs in your local area? Try VolunteerMatch, a fast, user-friendly online portal to search all types of opportunities from arts and literacy to environment and veterans.

And if you have career expertise to share, skills-based volunteering could be a match. For example, you may be able to build deeper connections and make a lasting impact in your small business community by checking out local volunteer opportunities with SCORE, the largest network of small business mentors in the nation.

3. Pass along or purchase items for causes that mean the most to you

Donating new or gently used clothing, housewares and toys to worthy campaigns like The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle and Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots programs often come to mind first during the holidays. But there are unlimited ways you can personalize your giving toward community interests close to heart. Here are just a few out-of-the-box examples:

  • Organize a donation drive among family, friends, coworkers or neighbors for coloring books, art supplies and games for a hospital pediatric ward. Contacting the facility’s child life services specialists will ensure your gifts support inpatient children and their families.
  • Buy and decorate lunch bags for Meals on Wheels. You might not be able to take on a full route, but you can add life to the effort by purchasing and decorating the paper lunch sacks that this charity uses every day for the cold portion of delivered meals. Each Meals on Wheels provider is unique in the specific support they may need; find your local one here.
  • Help four-legged friends by giving clean blankets, fleece throws, sheets and towels you no longer use to your local animal shelter. These items help dogs and cats feel comfortable in their temporary home until they find a permanent one.

Fostering the spirit of giving

There are many ways to embrace giving back to our communities this season — and all year long. Consider which causes align with your core values. Whether you act on an idea presented here, write letters to deployed service members or round up your family to sing songs outside of a long-term care facility, chances are you’ll walk away from the experience feeling a positive connection to those around you. And, when you involve your family in acts of giving, you’re teaching younger generations about the importance of selfless acts of service.

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