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Things to Consider When Giving as a Gift

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This holiday season, instead of giving traditional gifts, complete with gift receipts, boxes and bows, consider giving the gift of charity in honor of a loved one.

Donating the money you would have spent on a gift to an organization that reflects the heart or passion of a family member or friend is a gift that not only has lasting importance to your loved one, but it also has a lasting impact on the community. However, you'll want to do your homework to ensure your gift will be meaningful to your loved one and used responsibly by the organization of your choice.

Here are some things to consider:

What causes are important to your loved one? There are numerous nonprofit organizations engaged in a wide variety of causes and activities. As you try to decide which one to choose, think about what your loved one’s interests and passions are. Just as you would try to find a gift that appropriately suits your loved one, choose an organization whose mission and/or activities align with his or her interests.

How will the contribution be used by the charity? There are many organizations that have similar missions, but carry out their programs very differently. Knowing how your contribution will be used can help you to decide which of those charities will be most appropriate for your gift. For example, if you have a loved one who cares deeply about feeding impoverished children, some organizations use your gift to sponsor a specific child, while others may pool the contributions received to strengthen an entire community’s infrastructure. Both models of support make a difference to improve the lives of children in need, but knowing exactly where your donation will go and what impact it will have on the community will let you honor a loved one in the way you intend. 

Is the charity trustworthy? Make sure to do a little research before you make your gift in honor of your loved one. Not only do you want your gift to be meaningful, but you also want to ensure that your contribution will go to a charity that is legitimate and trustworthy. Check the Council’s online charity search to see if the charity has a review. If not, the Better Business Bureau charity search is also a good resource for reviews of national organizations. If you do not find a review of the charity you want to give to, do your own review. Here are some “Questions to Ask Charities Before Giving”.

So as you contemplate giving a donation in honor of someone special this holiday season, be sure to do a little homework. Your gift will be most meaningful to your loved ones, and have the biggest impact on the community, if you choose carefully.