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5 Tips For More Cost-Effective Giving This Year

Ultimately, you give because you want to support the cause, not pay for an organization's overhead or peripheral activities like fundraising.

01/18/2018 10:57 EST | Updated 01/18/2018 11:06 EST

At this time of year, many of us are making New Year resolutions. The most common resolution is "giving." The tough questions are: Who do you want to give to? Through what channel? How often do you want to give? What is the best way to give?

Rather than cutting a cheque or dropping some money in a collection can, ensure your donation is most effective by following a smarter giving strategy.

Using your head as much as your heart when giving is important, so ensure you're giving to a charity/cause that will most effectively manage your contribution.

Ultimately, you give because you want to support the cause, not pay for an organization's overhead or peripheral activities like fundraising.

Here are some tips to help you make the biggest imprint with your money.

Focus on your passion

Before you get choked with the request for donations from friends, family and fundraisers, identify causes you care about. Consider your donation as a building block to achieving the world you see yourself living in. Connecting with organizations that share your values makes giving easier and more fulfilling.

According to Ignite Lab public opinion poll, in 2016 82 per cent of Canadians polled believe charities are important, with 70 per cent making a donation in the past year. When you're giving or helping a cause you like or you can relate to, making donations comes naturally.

Most Canadians are familiar with the charities they donate to on a regular basis, but what if you wanted to learn about other organizations? We suggest you start with "giving portal" sites such as CanadaHelps, as they provide information to help you make informed decisions on donations and fundraising.

Not only do they feature all of Canada's registered charities, but charities can also add additional information about their impact. The Canada Revenue Agency also maintains a searchable web page with all the registered charities in Canada.

Conduct an audit

Once you've settled on your preferred choice of charity, treat your donation like an investment decision. Investigate the charities you're considering to be certain they are legit and spending funds wisely.

It's easy to focus on a charity's fundraising and administrative costs but understanding and measuring its impact can be tedious. Evaluating or ranking a charity solely on how much it spends on expenses can be misleading.

The bottom line is that the measure of an organization's effectiveness is the impact it makes on the community, not what it spends.

Charities need the right tools to get the job done and, like businesses, they need checks and balances to ensure they are accountable, transparent and effective.

It's fine to call the charity and ask for more information about this issue. If you can't get answers that satisfy you, then don't make a contribution.

Try to get a tax benefit

The tax-deductibility of charities in various countries, including the United States, varies. When you make a charitable donation in Canada you get both federal and provincial tax credits, with combined incentives of up to 53 per cent available.

On the federal level, you'll receive a 15 per cent non-refundable tax credit for the first $200 you donate, then 29 per cent for all donations beyond the $200 threshold. On top of that, each province offers its own tax incentives that vary depending on where you live. To calculate your own charitable tax credit, use this CanadaHelps tax calculator.

Charities and nonprofits are not exactly the same, and there are different rules governing these two categories of organizations. One simple distinction is that only registered charities are able to issue tax receipts for donations. If a tax receipt is important to you, visit the Canada Revenue Agency website to confirm if an organization is a registered charity.

Commit for the long-term

Canadians are using online platforms to set up monthly donations to causes they care about, providing charities with a more predictable revenue stream and avoiding scrambling at year's end for a charitable tax receipt.

For instance, in 2015 the average contribution ($669) from people who made monthly donations was over two times higher than those who made one-time donations ($322), according to CanadaHelps.

When you feel confident in an organization, consider giving to it on a multi-year basis. To really see the impact of your giving, it pays to build up a relationship with the charity you support. You'll feel more engaged in the progress of their programs, let them know they can count on you.

Give creatively

Giving back to your community is important, but so is sticking to your budget. Luckily, the two don't have to be mutually exclusive. Giving is not limited to monetary donations. The Fairtrade Initiative is one of the other amazing ways you can give to communities.

Fair Trade is a global movement where over a million small-scale producers and workers get their products sold in thousands of World-shops or Fair Trade shops, supermarkets and many other sales points in the North and, increasingly, in sales outlets in the Southern hemisphere.

From the Afghan Women's Business Federation to Level Ground to Fairtrade Canada, there are numerous organizations to support. Visit their websites, make purchases of different items from around the world and know that you are helping to improve the livelihoods and well being of disadvantaged producers.

Right now, more than 200 well-managed charities and non-profit organizations from all causes, sizes, and regions have been accredited in Canada, and every year more are joining.

They need your help to operate valuable programs and provide needed services.

Remember, when you give wisely, you will be giving more effectively.

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