You can give generously while sticking to a budget. Here are tips to planning and focusing your charitable gifts for maximum impact.

Money Matters for Cinfed Members

Give Smart: Plan Your Holiday Donations Now

Posted on October 20, 2020
Topic Categories: Consumer Help

Jar of charity donation

By Coach Fin

Welcome to the home stretch of 2020. Pumpkin spice season is well underway but we’ll start hearing holiday songs and seeing decorations before we know it. Last month we talked about saving for the holidays. This is also a great time to get into the holiday spirit by planning your charitable gifts.

Plan to be generous — and stay within budget

There are many good causes that need your support. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the number of requests that hit your mailbox and inbox. And this year you may see even more since so many people have been hit by the economic effects of the pandemic.

If you respond by donating $10 here and $25 there, that’s great. It’s rewarding to feel like you’re helping however you can. But, just like impulse spending, impulse giving can add up to more than you realize; it’s easy to overdo it. Here are tips to help you give generously within your means.

Choose charitable categories

It’s hard to say “no” to worthy requests but narrowing your giving focus might help you make a greater impact where it matters most to you. Which charities or causes speak to you or reflect your values? You can have a family meeting to agree on a donations budget, and develop a plan for how and where you’ll give. Start by identifying one to three broad categories where you’d like to focus your gifts, such as:

  • Feeding families
  • Supporting shelters
  • Buying toys for children in need or adopting a family to buy gifts for
  • Funding education/school supplies
  • Donating to hospitals or health organizations
  • Supporting active, wounded or retired military personnel
  • Supporting local churches or faith charities
  • Contributing to medical or emergency relief
  • Donating to international charities

Planning your gifts not only helps you stick to your budget, it also makes it easier to respond to organizations outside your focus of giving.

Focus on a few organizations

Once you’ve identified the general categories you can identify specific organizations within those categories. Tools like Charity Navigator can help you with giving choices. They rate charitable organizations on their financial health, accountability, and transparency.

Look for matching gifts

You can double your donation (or more) when you take advantage of matching gifts. Many companies and groups will match donations to specific charities during specific time periods. Look for promotions that align with the charitable categories or specific organizations you’ve identified.

Donate time, talent, goods and services

Your ability to give isn’t limited by your bank account. You can give more — and often receive greater satisfaction — when you volunteer your time or talent. Or donate gently used (and much needed) toys, clothing, kitchenware and furniture. Need ideas?

  • Cook or serve a meal at a local shelter, soup kitchen or Ronald McDonald House.
  • Knit hats or make blankets for newborn babies or people undergoing cancer treatment.
  • Paint a room or clean up landscaping at a homeless or women’s shelter.
  • Help an elderly neighbor with chores.
  • Donate gently used furniture to an area shelter, thrift store or furniture bank. Some will even come pick up your items.
  • Donate gently used toys and clothes to area thrift stores or call for a doorstep pickup.
  • Offer your special talent or service pro bono to a local charity — from accounting to web design.
  • Help kids or adults learn to read.

Save donation receipts for tax time

Keep good records of your donations (monetary and goods) and save donation receipts. Many donations are tax deductible, and for 2020, some limitations have been increased or suspended. Here are IRS updates to charitable contribution deductions.

We’re here to help

Your local Cinfed branch and drive-thru are open. If you have questions about checking and saving accounts, loans, or other services, a financial coach or team member will be happy to help. Here’s what to expect if you visit.


Cinfed Credit Union
4801 Kennedy Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45209
(513) 333-3800
Routing #242076656


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