Americans are big givers, data on philanthropic donations suggests. In 2016, we donated more than $373 billion to charitable organizations – a record amount – and Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy projected 2017 would see a 3.6 percent increase in giving.
Among the recipients of this largess were progressive causes that appeared to be at odds with the new presidential administration. Organizations such as the International Refugee Assistance Project, American Civil Liberties Union and Sierra Club all experienced surges in donations in the weeks following the presidential election.
Another growing trend in charitable giving during the past year has focused on helping individuals become more organized and goal-oriented when they choose their causes and how they donate. Corporations, too, are becoming more strategic and sophisticated in their giving, and they expect to see measurable results through their efforts.
Employee expectations also are driving changes in corporate philanthropy. Studies in recent years demonstrate that employees prize jobs with companies that are socially and environmentally responsible.
Philanthropy Tax Tips from the IRS
This is the time of year when many people make charitable contributions to organizations they support. The following IRS guidelines can help ensure your donations to eligible organizations qualify for a tax deduction:
- Taxpayers must itemize deductions to claim a donation.
- For monetary donations, retain a bank record or receipt with the date, amount and name of the recipient organization for your records.
- Receipts (from the charity, if possible) for non-cash gifts must include a reasonably detailed description of the item(s), date contributed and name of the charity, as well as the fair market value of the donation and the method used to determine that value. Additional rules apply for a contribution worth $250 or more.
- Some travel expenses, such as lodging and transportation, associated with performing services for a qualified charity may be tax-deductible.
- In general, taxpayers may deduct up to 50 percent of adjusted gross income, but in some situations, the deduction may be limited to 20 percent or 30 percent of adjusted gross income.
… Avoid Charity Scams
- Avoid donating to an unsolicited request; choose which charities you wish to support and say “no” to others that come calling.
- Do not give into pressure to donate right away; take time to investigate the organization.
- Do not provide your bank account or credit card information over the phone unless you initiated the call.
- Send contributions directly to the charitable organization (not to a professional fundraiser).
- If a caller says you’ve donated to his or her charity in the past, ask for verification of how much and when.
- If you suspect you’ve been solicited by a scam charity, report it to the Federal Trade Commission, www.ftc.gov/complaint.
As you consider gifts this holiday season, remember that charitable donations offer advantages for both donors and receivers. If you have questions about your charitable donations and whether they are tax deductible, we will be happy to refer you to a qualified tax professional. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (952) 460-3260 to schedule a time.