Giving Back

By Roxy Simons for SWG

Without the time, money, and food donated to social services such as soup kitchens and homeless shelters, many underprivileged Americans would not have access to facilities that improve their quality of life; facilities that we often take for granted. We rely on social workers to connect us with the proper resources, but those resources rely on the generosity of the community in order to assist those in need. Whether you choose to give a monetary gift, a direct donation, or volunteer your time, make a point to give back to your community this holiday season.

If you’ve never donated to a charity before, start the process by doing your research. Compile a list of charities to which you would consider donating money, then contact those organizations directly to learn more about their mission. Be sure that you know the purpose your donation will serve and whether this is an organization with which you personally connect. What has this organization done to better your community? Is the organization registered by federal, state, or local authorities? How will your donation impact this organization? Speaking to someone over the phone or face to face will help you better connect with the charity and understand the importance of your donation.

By making a charitable monetary donation, you have the opportunity to provide a plethora of resources to those who need it most. If you’ve considered making a donation this year, but haven’t yet done so, now is the time. By donating before the end of the year, you’ll ensure that your donation is tax deductible for your 2016 tax returns. You can only deduct if you itemize on your taxes. Visit charitynavigator.org and use the giving calculator to see how much of a tax break you will receive by donating to certain organizations. Charity Navigator features hundreds of tax deductible charities waiting for your generous donation.

Donating money is not the only way to give back this holiday season. Many organizations rely on direct donations, like toys, groceries, toiletries, or clothes.  Before throwing away unwanted items in your house, consider donating them to Goodwill or a local homeless shelter. With a direct donation, you know exactly how your gift will improve someone’s life.

If you are not currently in a financial situation to donate money or personal items, consider donating your time by volunteering. Students are often required to volunteer in order to graduate, but an academic requirement is not the only reason to volunteer. Although the holiday season can be busy and stressful, making time to volunteer will not only help others, but hopefully improve your quality of life. Volunteering allows you to give back to your community, meet new people, learn new skills, and reduce stress. Oftentimes, underprivileged citizens don’t have the luxury of living close to their loved ones or even connecting with a friendly face. By donating your time, you have the opportunity to immediately and personally change people’s lives. Visit the National Association of Social Workers website to find the most suitable volunteering experience for you.