How To Support A Cause You Believe In

We’re not shy about the importance we place on volunteering our time and donating our money at SheSpends. We are, after all, one of the many organizations that sprang up in the wake of the 2016 election: an attempt at being the change we wanted to see in the world. 

By the looks of it, the She Spends community is really into giving as well. We have a charity section on our How She Spends survey, and all of you picked such vital organizations to give money to! The National Eating Disorder AssociationPlanned Parenthood and the ACLU are among some of your favorites to donate money to. 

We want to help you take that awesome citizenship to the next level. So we’re asking that this week you consider doing at least one thing that gives back to your community. You can donate your time, things you already own or some money - it all counts.

Almost anyone has some extra time to share with a local organization. Volunteering not only helps your local community, but it also helps you get ahead. You can develop a new skill, meet new people in your area, fill in resume gaps if you’re unemployed and come away feeling warm and fuzzy, which is always nice. 

How do you get involved? You can use websites like VolunteerMatch or apps like DEED to find volunteer opportunities in your area. You can also look for specific causes. If, for instance, you are interested in working with a group that benefits lupus research, you can work with a local chapter of the Lupus Foundation of America

We understand that you may not have a ton of time in the next week to volunteer for a new organization. Perhaps consider donating extra menstrual products to a local homeless shelter; they often don’t receive enough donations, but they’re a necessity for many homeless folks. You can also offer up canned goods to a local food bank or clothes to a thrift shop like Housing Works. Old books can go to your local library, while computers can be donated via TechSoup

Another route to consider is donating your money to a cause you really care about. Cash is king for many nonprofits; they can use it to pay employees and further the cause you really care about. They are, after all, experts in the space. Use Charity Navigator to make sure your money is going to the best use. 

What’s great about making a charitable donation is that it’s tax deductible. Translation: You don’t have to pay taxes on the money you donate to charitable organizations. That’s a win for you and a win for whatever nonprofit you’re giving to.

You have to make sure you get some paperwork in order when you make a donation, though. You must have a canceled check, credit card statement, bank statement or a written acknowledgment from the charity on file to prove to the IRS that you have made said donation. Most charities provide you with a receipt once you make a donation, so save that in a specific folder on your computer that you’ll break out when tax season comes. 

You must itemize each of these on your tax deduction form (it is Form 1040, Schedule A if you want to really nerd out here). This means that you have to list each charitable donation you made, sort of like you would list each transaction on your budget.

Share with us on Twitter or Instagram how you donated money, items or time this week! We’ll be retweeting and sharing some of our favorites throughout the week.

- Alicia McElhaney / She Spends Issue #20

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