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The team from Charity Navigator, the nation's largest independent charity evaluator and leading donor advocate, shares their thoughts on emerging nonprofit-sector issues and offers tips to better inform your intelligent giving decisions.

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Monday, March 23, 2020

Easy Ways to Give to Charity

At Charity Navigator, we believe that every donation - small or large - has the power to make a difference, and we know that charities feel the same way. In addition to small or large cash donations, there are alternative ways to give to charity that benefits both you and the charity.

Not everyone has the means to give a cash donation, so here are some additional ways to donate to your favorite charities:


Charity Navigator believes in the power of volunteering. This is a great first step in becoming part of the philanthropic ecosystem. Using your skills to help a charity’s mission can make a big difference for its mission. You can find local nonprofits that are looking for volunteers by using sites like Golden.


A donor-advised fund, or DAF, is a giving vehicle established through a public charity. It allows donors to make a donation and receive an immediate tax deduction, where they then can make recommendations over time about where the funds will go. For example, you can open up a DAF account with Fidelity Charitable and decide to give $5,000. You may decide you’d like to support an animal charity this year, after discovering them on Charity Navigator. You would then contact Fidelity and advise them (see where the term comes from?) to send $100 to the charity, which will come out of your $5,000 fund.

IRA accounts

The IRA Charitable Rollover allows individuals who are 70 1/2 years of age or older to donate to charitable organizations directly from their IRA, without that donation being counted as taxable income when it is withdrawn.

To qualify, contributions must come from a traditional IRA or Roth IRA, and they must be made directly to a public charity. Additionally, the donor may not receive goods or services in exchange for the donation, and they must retain a receipt from each charity to which a donation is made.

Employee Matching Gifts

Employee matching gift programs are corporate giving programs in which the company matches donations made by employees to eligible nonprofit organizations.

Some companies have a preferred list of charities they partner with, while others match gifts to any charity an employee donates to. Typically, all you have to do is provide proof of your donation and request a matching gift from your company.

Taking advantage of your company’s corporate giving is an easy way to maximize your gift and make a bigger difference for the cause you care about. If you don’t know how your company’s corporate giving program works, contact your human resources department today.

And, don't forget to ask if they allow employees to volunteer their time with local charities. Some companies offer paid time off to staff when they volunteer with an organization in their community.

Planned Gifts

Gifts through wills and living trusts are simple to arrange and may be changed at any time. A provision or amendment prepared by your attorney at the time you make or update your will is all that is necessary. We recommend reaching out to the charity or charities you write into your will to let them know.

Monthly Donations

Monthly donations are great for donors who want to give a little each month to support their favorite charity. It allows you to spread out your finances across a longer time period and allows the charity you support to sustain its operations through lean times.

Non-cash or in-kind donations

Donating items like books, toys, clothing, eyeglasses, and pet supplies, is a great way to support charities on a limited budget. Check out our post on donating your items to a local organization to help a neighbor in need.

Are there any other giving avenues that you like to use? Comment below to share!

Written by Megan Ritter, Development Manager at Charity Navigator

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