After Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, a group of organizations, including the 92nd Street Y, is calling on Americans to observe another event, Charitable Giving Tuesday, which is today. Just as Friday is the start of the shopping season, this event bills itself as the start of the giving season, and encourages Americans to think about their charitable giving. America is the most generous nation in the world when it comes to charitable giving, and Kansas City has a reputation of being particularly charitable.
There are countless good charities, both locally and nationally. Harvesters: the Community Food Network does incredible work fighting hunger in our community. Another organization JVS, helps a broad array of people help themselves by assisting them in finding work through programs such as refugee resettlement, occupational rehabilitation, and a closed workshop. (Disclaimer: I am a member of the JVS Board of Directors). Or you could support an arts organization such as the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. And of course there are a broad array of national organizations, from the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the American Red Cross.
Charitable giving can raise a number of legal questions. First, people want to be sure their money is actually going to a good cause. There are a number of online tools such as GuideStar and online guides such as the one put out by the Better Business Bureau to help you maximize your impact.
Another issue involves the charitable deduction. Those organizations recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)3 (as well as certain others) qualify for a charitable deduction, subject to certain restrictions by the IRS. However, most people do not have enough deductions to justify itemizing in any given year. But with careful planning, the deduction can be maximized.