(Family Features) For many, the holiday season sparks the spirit of giving - not only among family and friends, but to those living in need and the organizations working to help them. If you're committed to helping improve the lives of others in your community, it may mean thinking long-term.
After the lights come down and the New Year's ball drops, the programs and services provided by most nonprofits and cause-based organizations continue to run year-round. Their ability to help those they serve not only relies on meeting a single season's fundraising goals but also on the ongoing commitments from donors who provide the financial stability they need to plan and grow. These five tips can help your gifts provide long-term benefits for the causes you support:
Make a personal connection. Hand-deliver your donation to a local chapter and introduce yourself as a supporter. Even consider bringing your kids to inspire generations of giving. Inquire about how you can make the greatest impact and learn about ongoing events and opportunities to get involved.
Spread your contribution over time. If a strict monthly budget has you concerned about breaking the bank, consider signing up for a recurring donation to benefit those served by an organization like The Salvation Army throughout the year. A $25 monthly gift can feed 126 people over the course of one year or provide 11 nights of shelter for those in need in your community.
Introduce co-workers to the cause. Many businesses support employees' volunteer efforts and match contributions, which makes it easy for you to become a champion for cause-related work in your community. Gathering colleagues who share your passion for a cause is a team-building activity that allows you to build personal connections with people you might not have a chance to interact with regularly otherwise. Sharing the load also means you can take turns volunteering, attending events or making contributions for a larger overall impact than you could make on your own.
Give the gift of giving. Rather than giving material goods, consider a meaningful contribution in your gift recipient's honor. Or share an experience to benefit the cause: spend date night volunteering or gift someone tickets to a nonprofit organization's performance or gala event.
Pay it forward with younger generations. Introducing kids to the joy of giving can pay dividends for decades to come. Teach the little ones in your life about the big impact they can make by letting them get hands-on. Kids delight in getting to donate loose change, by dropping it in an iconic red kettle, for example (this year, you can even donate through Apple Pay or Google Pay) and you can take advantage of their interest by explaining the impact of their donation. An average of 82 cents of every $1 donated to The Salvation Army goes directly to help neighbors who need it most.
Donations to nonprofit organizations are tax-exempt no matter when they are contributed during the year.
Learn more about giving opportunities all year long by joining the Fight for Good at SalvationArmyUSA.org.