Holiday Giving Tips

Give locally. Give wisely. Give safely. And more holiday giving tips.

This holiday season, share your love for our community by giving to a local nonprofit. There are 400 to choose from on Photo: iStock

As you go about your holiday shopping, don't forget about the men, women and children in our community who may be struggling. Give a gift of love. Support a nonprofit at

1. Give locally.

Local nonprofits, especially those in the social service and mental health areas, are facing unprecedented challenges from reductions in state funding and shifts in national policies. According to the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy (CCP), the adopted state budget is already in a deficit. Budget obligations of pensions and health care for retirees will continue to grow, leaving less and less for critical needs like education, municipal support and the many programs that create a social safety net for Connecticut's residents.

CCP provides a directory of community foundations that cover the entire state. Community foundations work closely with individuals and nonprofits within the communities they serve to improve the quality of life for people in their geographic area.

2. Give wisely.

To determine a nonprofit's transparency and effectiveness, an informed donor will consider an organization's overall impact in addition to expense ratios. You can find data to guide your decision-making on the following sites:

Home of The Great Give®,® is a resource for learning and giving to nonprofits serving central Connecticut. lists 400 nonprofit profiles; the site is free for nonprofits and provided by The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven in partnership with Guidestar.

The Connecticut Data Collaborative: a public-private partnership working to increase the quality and availability of data for effective planning and policy. Their website data portal contains over 135 datasets. DataHaven is a hub for local information that collects, interprets and shares public data for effective decision-making. It works with many partners to develop reports, tools and technical assistance programs that make information more useful to local communities. Its largest project is the DataHaven Community Wellbeing Survey, which produces information on quality of life, public health, economic development and civic vitality for more than 100 partners throughout Connecticut and sections of nearby states.

3. Give without strings.

After choosing a nonprofit you like, make an unrestricted gift. Unrestricted donations enable the nonprofit to use the money where it's needed the most.

4. Talk to your Advisor.

Before making any significant gift to charity, consult with your CPA, attorney or other advisor to understand the impact on your taxes and estate. Don't have an advisor? Here's a list of professional advisors that partner with The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven for your consideration.

5. Give safely.

When giving online after you've done your research about a charity, be sure that the charity's website uses encryption technology to protect you. Check the address bar on the page which requires sensitive information to be posted. The URL should begin with "https." The "s" stands for "secure" and indicates that sensitive information will be encrypted and transmitted securely. (Source: CharityWatch)

6. Give now, decide later.

If you are planning for a charitable tax deduction this year but are undecided about which nonprofits to support, consider opening a donor advised fund at The Community Foundation. You can make your gift in cash, via credit card, securities or other assets. A donor advised fund can be set up in one meeting.

7. Explore employer matching gift programs.

Some companies offer matching gift programs that can increase — even double — the impact of your gift. Contact your human resources department to see what your employer offers.

8. Leave a bequest.

Support for your favorite charities will go well beyond this year if you create a permanent fund in your estate plan that names them as beneficiaries. An update to your will will ensure that nonprofit(s) you've helped throughout your lifetime will continue to be supported by you forever. Review the multiple planned and legacy gift options on The Community Foundation's website and at The Valley Gives Back™, a site created by the Valley Community Foundation highlighting the importance of planned giving as a way to benefit the Connecticut's Valley region.

9. Share your awesomeness.

You'll have done a great thing! Inspire your friends and family to join you in your awesomeness.