As the year ends, you have only a few hours left to make tax-deductible donations to charity. It's not a big deal to write a couple of checks, and lots of charities accept credit card donations and have convenient websites. However, if you want to spread money around, American Express makes it extremely easy -- and personally profitable.
The Members Give program (formerly "Giving Express") connects you to over a million charitable organizations! You can search for them by name, keywords, location, or use an extensive list of categories such as performing arts, education, health care, housing, human rights, disaster relief, religion and much more. The AmEx website has financial reports, mission statements, contacts, and other information regarding the organizations.
Donating online helps nonprofit organizations reduce administrative costs so that they can do more with the money. Your dollar donations are tax-deductible and you’ll receive an e-mail receipt for your records.
• Give to one or more charities and nonprofit organizations
• Donate dollars with your American Express Card
• Donate Membership Rewards points
• Set up recurring donations
When you make a donation, you'll get an immediate e-mail confirmation for each transaction. AmEx will post a detailed record of all your donations on your password-protected Giving History web page, if you need a record for an IRS audit in the future.
The Amazon.com Smile program will give 0.5% of the price
of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the charitable organization of your choice. Amazon will also donate a total of as much as one million bucks extra ($5 at a time) until midnight, Pacific time, tonight. Tens of millions of products on AmazonSmile are eligible for donations. You will see eligible products marked “Eligible for AmazonSmile donation” on the product detail pages. Donations are made by the AmazonSmile Foundation and are not tax deductible by you, but if you're going to be shopping anyway, you may as well help a charity. My "Stories" book is eligible.
This is also the time of year to engage in some intensive house cleaning and office cleaning. I recommend the one-year-test (or six-month test, or pick another appropriate interval). If there is something you haven't used in a year, there is a good chance that you won't use it in the next year... or decade. Walk around your home. Open closets and drawers. Check the attic, basement, garage and car trunk. Look on the highest shelves and in kitchen cabinets. Check your storage shed and look under the back deck. Chances are you'll find lots of stuff you no longer want, need or use.
Gather these things together and take them to your nearby Goodwill or Salvation Army "store." You'll get rid of clutter, get a tax donation, provide employment, and help someone less fortunate get a bargain on something she needs. While you're there, you may find some bargains to buy, too.
Although not specifically a year-end reminder, think about getting a credit card that will help an important charity or organization with your normal spending. For example, Bank of America works with Susan G. Komen for the Cure® to provide co-branded credit cards, debit cards and checking accounts, encouraging people to "Make every purchase pink." For each new Susan G. Komen for the Cure branded credit card account opened and used, Komen receives a minimum of $3, and a minimum of 20 cents for every $100 you make in purchases with the card. Komen also receives $1 for each annual renewal of the card. CLICK for info.