a last minute gift idea

So I have said it before, but now we are really in the final count to CHRISTMAS!  While many of you are on the ball and have had your presents purchased and wrapped for weeks, those of you who may still need a last minute gift or two are in luck...there is still time to make a charitable donation in honor of a loved friend or family member!

While this may be a new idea to some, I can promise that it is quick, easy, and makes for a very meaningful gift if done correctly.  In fact, there are several people on my list who would prefer a charitable donation on Christmas morning to another set of hand towels or a new mixing bowl.  Here are a few quick tips and ideas if making a charitable donation is something you are considering this year.

1. Chose the right charity.  This is KEY!  Consider the person you are honoring with the charitable donation.  What are their interests, passions, or hobbies?  If your mom is an avid gardener, consider a donation to a botanical garden in her honor.  Perhaps your friend recently adopted a puppy... a donation to the humane society may be the perfect gift this year.  There are so many charitable organizations out there you are certain to find one that matches your recipient's interests.

2. Do a little research.  Not sure about which charity to support?  Check out Charity Navigator, a free resources that provides you with a ranking of different charities ranging from large national groups to local grassroots causes.  The site it easy to use with a search bar on the home page for keywords or the name of a specific charity.  If you want to make sure your donation is tax deductible, remember to verify the organization's 501(c)(3) status (a federal status given to organization's that qualify as charitable) before making your gift.  Check out this site for more information on charitable organization's and tax exemption.

3. Make a gift.  Many charitable organizations take donations online, over the phone, or in person.  Regardless of how you make your donation, be sure to provide your name and mailing address so the organization can send you a receipt and you can claim a tax deduction.

4.  Present your gift to the honoree.  Many charitable organizations will send a letter or card (especially during the holidays) announcing to your loved one that a gift has been given in their honor.  Being so close to Christmas, it is probably safest for you to write your own card to your loved one for any donations you make this year.  If you write your own card, it is not necessary to list the amount of the donation.  A simple card that reads "A donation has been made in your name to (organization name)" will suffice.  It is also a nice touch to include a little information about the charity (their mission or their service population) if you have that available.

Making a charitable donation is not only a great last minute gift idea, it is also a chance to connect with your friends and family members in a meaningful way that supports causes and communities they love. Will you be making any charitable donations as last minute gifts this year?

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