It’s the 2020 COVID holiday season, here’s how to use even a small amount of money for good



As the economy begins the process of reopening and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, many charities and non-profits are in a precarious position and need help.

As we saw after the 2008 financial crisis, government and private financial support for non-profits tends to dry up at the times when it is needed most.  Even during these times, as many families and businesses struggle and budget for potentially tougher times ahead, there are still small things that can be done to use your money for good.

The most direct way to help is usually with cash donations, even small ones.  While sheltering in place and staying at home has helped reduce the spread of COVID-19, a negative side effect is that it has not been possible to hold the fundraising events that many charities rely on to fund operations, and in some cases, nearly all sources of funding have been interrupted.

One small thing that can be done to use your money for good, and help alleviate the economic devastation caused by the pandemic, is to give even $50 to your favorite charity.

WHEN TO DONATE REWARDS TO CHARITY AND WHEN TO GIVE CASH

Under the CARES Act, a new universal deduction is available in 2020 where up to $300 may be taken as a deduction for cash gifts to public charities.

This encourages charitable giving by taxpayers who otherwise would not get a benefit from giving because they don’t itemize their deductions, so it is a win-win for both people who understandably might not have much to give, and charities, many of whom are in desperate need at the moment.

While it’s great to get a tax benefit if you give to a qualified public charity, we also shouldn’t ignore others in need when helping out might not result in a deduction.

If you are enjoying a take-out meal from your favorite local restaurant, consider leaving a higher than normal tip.

Many small restaurants are struggling to survive in the current environment, and their remaining employees have likely seen a sizable drop in income as dine-in meals have been restricted.

CHARITABLE DONATIONS DWINDLE DUE TO CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

If you have the means to do so, leaving a larger tip when you get food from your favorite restaurants can be a great way to help support your local community.

One small thing that can be done to use your money for good, and help alleviate the economic devastation caused by the pandemic, is to give even $50 to your favorite charity. 

Another good strategy is to investigate whether your employer has a matching gift program.  With these programs, employers typically provide gifts alongside your donations to a nonprofit of your choice.

In times like this, it is well worth it to determine if your employer has a matching gift program, and if so, are there are additional funds related to the pandemic that might be available to support your favorite local charity.

As part of my own firm’s broader COVID-19 response, UBS is providing additional matching gifts above and beyond our normal level.  For example, to address the issue of food insecurity and hunger, our local Greater New England market is making additional matching contributions toward employee gifts to local food banks.

If you have access to a matching gift program through your employer, be sure to use it as you can multiply the impact of your gift.  Especially now, when many of us might have more extra time than extra money, investigating and taking advantage of an employer matching gift program is a very impactful way to support your favorite cause.

CHARITIES ARE SUFFERING FINANCIALLY DURING CORONAVIRUS CRISIS, DESPITE INCREASED NEED

Finally, if you do find yourself with more extra time than extra money at the moment, now is a great opportunity to volunteer.

Many charities have had to reduce staff due to funding challenges, so volunteering your time can go a long way towards getting a charity through these difficult times.

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There is a lot you can do right from the comfort of your own home. Using social media to raise awareness of your favorite charity, or even running a small scale fundraising effort on their behalf can have a huge impact.

Now more than ever this is a great time to use even a small amount of your time and money for good.  Even small gifts can go farther than you might think and the impact can be magnified if you are fortunate enough to have a matching gift program available as described earlier.

Volunteering, even remotely with social media, is also a great way to help. With any difficult situation, it’s always good to look to the positives.

Hopefully, one positive that will come from the current pandemic is that we will be able to work together as a community, to do what we can to help those most in need, and come out of this both stronger and wiser.

Larry DePaulis, Managing Director – Wealth Management, Senior Portfolio Manager, Hingham Street Partners of UBS Financial Services Inc.

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