Many of us want to donate money and time to charities, but simply don’t know how to get started. Giving back has never been easier, and charitable organizations need the support now more than ever.

Charities need a surprising amount of things, and there can even be benefits for the donor. Here are some reasons to give more in 2021 — and how to make it happen.

Why donate?

Being able to support a cause that’s important to you is the most meaningful reason to donate. Few things in life are as fulfilling as having a direct impact on something that matters to you. Whether you’re helping support families in need or protecting an essential part of your town, there’s no feeling like having a positive impact on a cause you’re passionate about.

There are also incentives for people to make charitable contributions. Despite recent tax law changes, you can still get deductions for donations, as long as they’re made to qualified tax-exempt organizations. Contributing could even help lower your taxable income. Speak with a professional if you have any questions about these deductions.

So, you’ve decided that you want to give back. Now you need to figure out the best way to do that. Speaking directly with the organization you wish to contribute to will help you understand what they need the most.

Below are some of the most common ways to give to charitable organizations.

Give money. Perhaps the easiest way to give to your favorite charity is with money. Virtually every organization needs and accepts cash donations, and you can use this type of gift for tax purposes. Many charities offer matching programs during specific times of the year, which is a great way to maximize your impact. Check out your favorite online shopping destination for charitable giving programs, as well — many places make donations of cash or goods with every purchase customers make.

Food and clothing. Food banks, homeless shelters and other local charities are in constant need of food and clothing. Canned and boxed foods are popular and cheap, but regular donations of produce, dairy and meat are precious to these organizations. Children’s apparel, winter weather gear, socks and footwear are some of the most commonly needed items. Contacting your local charity before making purchases is recommended. Many businesses and organizations hold toy drives for children during the holidays, as well.

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Give time. This option is a bit harder due to current restrictions and social-distancing measures, but volunteering at a local charity can be rewarding on multiple levels. You may not be able to deduct this type of giving from your taxes, but you will be making a direct impact on the causes you care about.

Once restrictions have been lifted, helping to serve meals at homeless shelters and assisted living facilities is a wonderful way to get started. You can also look for charities that hold camps and classes for kids — they frequently need adult volunteers.

One great way to get involved now is to donate blood or plasma at your local blood bank. There’s always a need for blood donors, so consider making it part of your routine.

Vehicles. A way of giving back that has increased in popularity over the years is to donate your old vehicle. Many organizations will take your old car or truck and use it to best suit their needs, whether it’s for making deliveries, loaning it to families in need or auctioning it off and using the proceeds to help fund the organization’s goals. These donations are often tax-deductible, and some charities will even accept boats and airplanes.

Giving to your favorite causes has never been easier. Consider which option is best for you, and don’t hesitate to reach out to the organization before giving. With more ways to donate than ever, 2021 can be the year you give back the most.

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