The end of the year is the fastest and most furious time in fundraising. With Thanksgiving, Giving Tuesday, Holiday Giving and End-of-the-Year tax deduction giving, my email box has been filled each day with urgent solicitations. Some are from organizations I have supported to ones I have never heard of who obtained my email address somehow. As a fundraiser, I have no problem whatsoever with being asked by so many; I only wish I could afford to support more of them.  

I do give, but with care. It can be a dangerous web world out there; take a moment to make sure your gift is acknowledged properly for both you and your organization.

The Basics

Below are some simple steps you can take to make sure your holiday giving gets where it needs to and you receive the legal acknowledgments as well as the tax deduction for the IRS.

1. To deduct charitable donations, you will need to itemize all your deductions.

2. Give to qualified charities. You can only deduct gifts you give to a qualified charity, one that is recognized by the IRS. Use this link to the IRS Select Check tool to see if the group you give to is qualified. The organization you want to support should provide its tax ID on its receipt to you..

You can deduct gifts to churches, synagogues, temples, mosques and government agencies.

3. Keep a record of all cash gifts.  Gifts of money include:

  • cash or by check,
  • electronic funds transfer,
  • credit card, 
  • payroll deduction.

To deduct any gift of money on your tax return, you must have a bank record or a written statement from the charity,regardless of the amount of the gift. The statement must show the name of the charity, the date and amount of the donation.

Bank records include canceled checks, or bank, credit union and credit card statements. I

If you give by payroll deductions, you should retain a pay stub, a Form W-2 wage statement or other document from your employer. It must show the total amount withheld for charity, along with the pledge card showing the name of the charity.

4. Additional records might be required.  You must get an acknowledgment from a charity for each deductible donation of either money, goods or property with a value  of $250 or more. Additional rules apply to the statement for gifts of that amount. This statement is in addition to the records required for deducting cash gifts, however, one statement with all of the required information may meet both requirements.

5. Household goods must be in good condition.  Household items include:

  • furniture,
  • furnishings,
  • electronics,
  • appliances,
  • linens.

These items must be in at least good-used condition to claim on your taxes. A good rule of thumb is what that used item would sell for at a resale store. Sadly, the amount of many goods is not terribly high and beware of overvaluing in kind gifts.

A deduction claimed of over $500 does not have to meet this standard if you include a qualified appraisal of the item with your tax return.

6. Year-end gifts.  Charitable contributions are deductible in the year you make them.

  • A charge your gift to a credit card before the end of the year it will count for 2015, even if you do not actually pay the bill until 2016.
  • A check will count for 2015 as long as you mail it in 2015.

Planes, Trains and Cars:  Special rules apply if you give a car, boat or airplane to charity. If your deduction is more than $500 for a noncash contribution, you will need to file Form 8283, Noncash Charitable Contributions to report these gifts.

For more on information on these rules, visit


Can we help? About this or anything else nonprofit? Questions are always free and we’d love to help. Do call 310 828 6979

BTW: thanks for all you do.  


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