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The charity watchdog organization Charity Navigator says that total giving to charitable organizations equalled $390.05 billion in 2016. This was an increase of 2.7 percent in current dollars from 2015. In fact, giving has increased every year since 1976 with the exception of 1987, 2008 and 2009.
Historically, religious groups receive the largest share of charitable donations. However, education-based charities and human services charities also received a large percentage of donations in 2016, says Giving USA's 2017 Annual Report on Philanthropy.
Giving can be a year-round occurrence, but philanthropy tends to rise during the holiday season when people are feeling charitable. Some people even turn their charitable efforts into gifts for loved ones. The following are some gift ideas that can benefit the recipient, the person doing the giving and a third-party group as well.
Donating real estate can be an option for the person who has a piece of property or a home they no longer need. Rather than face taxes on the property once it's been sold, donating it to an organization or individual represents a charitable offering, and in some cases, may be eligible for a tax deduction equal to the fair market value of the real estate. Giving a plot of land or transferring a deed to a home to someone worthy can make for a memorable, life-altering gift.
A donation to a university or other school may help pay the tuitions of future students. Some philanthropists like to fund particular renovations at their alma maters or fund scholarships for students looking to work in a particular industry.
Charitable trust or stocks
A charitable trust is a great way to transfer wealth to heirs or simply provide a stream of income over the years. Individuals can establish a period of time during which the assets are held in a trust and when those assets can be accessed.
A tax-efficient way to give is to contribute to long-term securities in a person's name. Recipients of such gifts can choose to cash in their stocks at a later date.
Charitable giving rises during the holiday season. Providing opportunities for friends and loved ones can make a wonderful gift. Find out which options are best for you by speaking with a financial advisor or tax professional.