When donating, be smart about it

It’s the end of the year and that means Thanksgiving, Christmas and year-end giving. Most annual donations occur in December –one-third to be exact – and 12 percent in the last three days. Unfortunately, it’s also estimated that two-thirds of donors do no research before giving.

To make the most out of your giving this season, we asked The Catholic Foundation and Catholic Charities for some tips on how to donate smarter.

Giving through The Catholic Foundation

The Catholic Foundation of Northern Colorado was established in 1998 to help the faithful give to the Church in the best possible way, not only by cash, but also through other personal assets.

“The Catholic Foundation is the preferred ministry to receive planned gifts for the benefit of our parishes, schools and Catholic organizations,” said Jean Finegan, director of planned giving and development for The Catholic Foundation.

Most assets that Americans hold are investments, real estate, insurance policies and retirement plans. The Catholic Foundation safeguards all these types of gifts for the charitable purpose you desire.

As Finegan affirmed, planned giving allows us to leave a legacy of faith for the generations to come. It’s a final testament “of who we are, what we value and whom we love.”

Here are some ways you can donate smarter with the Foundation.

Donor Advised Fund Account

Starting your donor advised account with the Catholic Foundation will allow you to receive tax advantages and an immediate charitable tax deduction for each contribution. You can then recommend grants to your favorite charities.

“This is a beautiful way to involve family members in the benefits of faith-based philanthropy,” Finegan said.

With a donor advised account from the Foundation, you can benefit from a complimentary set-up, while eliminating capital gain taxes on gifts such as stocks, real estate and other assets.

Appreciated Stock

Giving through appreciated stock is one of the smartest ways to donate to Catholic parishes and ministries.

With the market at an all-time high, you can gift your stock directly to the Foundation, avoid the capital gain tax and receive a charitable tax deduction, Finegan explained.

This means that it’s better to donate your stock directly to charity than to sell it first and donate the proceeds. Doing so could increase your contribution and tax deduction substantially.

The Catholic Foundation will accept your appreciated stock and sell it for the benefit of the Catholic parish or organization you wish to support.

IRA Charitable Rollover

You can make your donation to the Church or charitable organization go further if you give directly from your Individual Retirement Account.

If you are 70 1/2 years old and have money in an IRA, it is mandated that you withdraw a required minimum distribution from your account each year, Finegan noted.

The charitable rollover allows you to give up to $100,000 from your IRA to the Foundation.

The distribution satisfies the required minimum distribution and is not added to your adjustable gross income. This may help in avoiding additional income tax on the distribution, Finegan said.

The Catholic Foundation will also assist you with an IRA charitable rollover donation.

Giving through Catholic Charities

Some Catholic Charities shelters and childcare centers qualify for tax credits, which will help make the most out of your donation.

“It’s a win-win because the donation goes further to help those in need and the donor has an after tax lower cost of donation even though they gave more,” said Wayne Wolberg, chief financial officer for Catholic Charities of Denver. “We have many donors contributing through [these opportunities].”

Enterprise Zone

Enterprise Zones exist to encourage a private involvement in economically distressed areas. The state of Colorado allows a 25 percent tax credit on state income taxes when a donation is made to qualifying homeless shelters, explained Wolberg.

Catholic eligible shelters include the Samaritan House in Denver, the Samaritan House Women’s Shelter in Denver, The Mission in Fort Collins and the Guadalupe Community Center in Greeley.

Consult your tax advisor for information on this tax credit option.

Childcare Tax Credit

The Childcare tax credit seeks to increase the quality and availability of child care in metro Denver. The state of Colorado allows a 50 percent tax credit on state income taxes when a donation is made to these ministries, Wolberg said.

The Catholic ministries that qualify for this credit are the Marisol Homes in Lakewood and Catholic Charities’ Early Childhood Education programs. See your tax advisor for more information.

Finegan encouraged all the faithful to contribute for the well-being of the Church and their own family: “Regardless of your age, circumstances or economic status, we encourage you to begin thinking about the legacy you wish to leave behind and the message you hope to share with your loved ones and your Catholic community.”

COMING UP: Ways to give to the poor this Christmas

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Giving to the poor is something we should all do as Christians, but as we remember that Christ gave himself to us when he became man, the Christmas season is an especially good time to give more to those less fortunate.

“Saint Lawrence answered it best,” said Father Ron Cattany, pastor of the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. “They are the treasure of the Church!”

The Cathedral serves the poor year-round through their breakfast sandwich line, midday grocery pantry and afternoon snack. It’s also open 86 hours a week to provide a place of security, warmth and refreshment through the use of bathrooms, Father Cattany said.

“The poor offer to you and me the grace to live a Life of Beatitudes. Their needs just might be our road to salvation,” Father Cattany added. “Remembering the poor at Christmas should remind us of their daily needs.”

Here are a few ways you might give to the poor this Christmas season.

Father Woody Giveaway
Every year at the Cathedral, people hand out $20 to the homeless to honor the tradition of Monsignor C.B. “Father Woody” Woodrich. This year, it takes place on Dec. 14 at 9 a.m. Father Cattany estimates between 700 and 1400 people to attend the event, which begins with a Liturgy of the World proclaimed by Regis University students, a “discussion about our support for those in attendance on their spiritual and life journey,” and envelopes with Father Woody’s image and cash inside, he said.

“Two years ago, as I was giving an envelope to one of the attendees, he gave me an envelope back. He said, This is a gift for you — it contained six cents,” Father Cattany said. “Last year I showed that envelope to the attendees. As a result, several of the folks gave me their prayer books and special items and asked me to hold on to them until this year. I will share them on Dec. 14th. Our bond with these wonderful folks is one of the most sacred bonds we will ever experience.”

With Catholic Charities
Catholic Charities in Denver has several different ministries that offer several opportunities to volunteer. Visit their volunteer hub and give your time in any of these areas: Family and childcare, housing and shelter, women’s services, senior services, mentor/teaching, special opportunities and group opportunities. Samaritan House, a homeless shelter, and Marisol Health, a women’s health clinic, are great places to serve.
Visit the volunteer hub at serveccdenver.volunteerhub.com/events/indexv1.

Through your parish
Pay attention to the giving opportunities going on at your parish, as most parishes participate in some kind of giving during the holiday season, from food pantry drives to having parishioners help visit the homebound.

Give money
Colorado Gives Day is Dec. 5 this year, so it’s a great time to consider donating to any special causes or charities near to your heart. Other creative ways to give monetarily might be to pay for someone to go home for the holidays or to tip generously when you go out to eat.

Send gifts
There are plenty of organizations where you can donate gifts to children or families in need. Donate to Compassion International to provide a gift for a child in need here: https://www.compassion.com/christmas-gift-for-needy-children.htm, or donate a shoe box of items to a child in a third world country through Samaritan Purse here: https://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/. You can also donate your family’s unused clothes still in good condition to a clothing drive, especially socks and mittens for colder winter weather.

Give time
Spending time with others is another great way to give. Visit the elderly at Mullen Home in Denver, or visit the homebound and help them cook, clean or decorate. Helping with children at daycare, babysitting for a family to give the parents a date night, or bringing meals to a new and exhausted family are other great ways to give your time. Christ in the City also serves meals to the homeless ever second Saturday of the month and invite anyone to come volunteer and spend time with the homeless. For more information, visit christinthecity.co/volunteer/.

Give food
One of the more traditional ways to give during the holiday season is participating in soup kitchens like Denver Catholic Worker Soup Kitchen or at a parish. Donating food to a local drive or preparing holiday meals to give to people in need is another way. You can also bake cookies and give them to neighbors or friends going through a tough time.

Adopt a family
Know someone in need in your community? Have friends and family pitch in to help provide for them this season, such as buying Christmas dinner for a single mom or low-income family and bringing them a few gifts.

Other ideas for giving
Many people are lonely during the holidays. Give by inviting someone to your Christmas dinner, especially if he or she doesn’t have a family to spend it with. Another way give is spiritually: Invite someone to go to Mass with you or to join you in prayer.