Tax Breaks & Benefits: How the Gift of Giving Comes Full Circle

The holidays are a time of reflection that inspire multitudes of people to reach out to those who are in need. As the old year ends and a new one begins, we’re reminded of the blessings and benefits we’ve received in the past year, and many of us feel the desire to help others get ahead in the year to come.

Donating to charity is a wonderful way to give back to the people who are the most deserving. Here at Save the Children we feel all children are deserving of good nutrition, good education, and a good start in life. While donating to children certainly comes with the warm fuzzies, there are also more quantifiable benefits to donating to charity – including health benefits and tax benefits. Did you know that giving money to charity provides a tax reduction? The end of the year is a sign that tax season is right around the corner, and in order to qualify for tax deductions for the current calendar year, you must make your yearly giving contributions by December 31st.

If you’re thinking of making a year-end holiday donation, here are three steps to take advantage of the tax benefits of donating to charity.

2-year-old AJ snacks on an orange slice to promote Healthy Choices on Tuesday, March 7, 2017 in Clay Country, Kentucky.1. Make Donations Tax Deductible By Researching and Itemizing
The first step to receiving a tax benefit on your donations is to itemize carefully. There’s a specific section of your tax returns that is dedicated to listing your itemized deductions. A helpful tip for itemization is to keep track of each charitable donation you’ve made throughout the year by holding onto any receipts and documentation. A spreadsheet can make this process easier at tax time, especially if you make lots of donations throughout the year.

Secondly, it’s also important to do your research on the charity of your choice. The organization you’re donating to must fall under the guidelines put in place by the IRS in order to qualify for deductions. You can find a full list of qualifying guidelines on the IRS website. You may also want to research the charity on watchdog websites, such as Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, and Great Nonprofits (spoiler alert: Save the Children has high ratings on all of these sites!).

2. Check Your Charitable Donations Tax Deduction Limits 
Donating a percentage of your income is a great way to receive tax breaks in April; however, there are limits to the number of charitable deductions you can receive. Typically, this number is capped depending on your income. Rates fluctuate each year, depending on the state of the economy at the time. However, limits tend to fall within the 20%-50% threshold of yearly gross income. It’s also important to know that charitable deductions vary widely based on income. This amount is typically averaged around 3%-6% of a person’s adjusted gross income.

3. Save the Date
As mentioned before, contributions must be made before December 31st in the current calendar year in order to qualify for deductions in the following year’s tax season, so make sure your contribution counts! In order for a deduction to qualify, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your donation has to be taken out of your bank account during the current calendar year. For instance, text message contributions (when you text a code that adds a certain amount to your phone bill) count as long as the text was made prior to January 1st.Credit and debit card charges are acceptable as long as the transaction is made by the end of the year, even if they’re not paid before the end of the year. This also applies to checks that are written and postmarked by the end of the year, even if they’re not cashed until after January 1st.

Making a Difference

2017 Hurricane Harvey- Child Friendly SpaveAs you get into the spirit of giving this holiday season, take a moment to ensure that your donations are contributing the greatest benefit for the causes you care about most. The gift of giving always comes full circle and generosity can be infectious.

If you’re hoping to contribute to a good cause before the end of the year, please consider the children around the world who need your help. Not only would your donation benefit countless children, but you’ll also receive the added benefit of a legitimate tax deduction. With your donation, in 2017, Save the Children reached more than 155 million children, including nearly 50 million children directly. We worked in 120 countries, including the United States, where we reached 237,000 children.

Now is your chance to make a difference in the world around you. Get involved and join the cause. Each child around the world deserves a bright future. Donate today to help give a healthy start in life to the children around the world who need it.

The Health Benefits You’ll Receive by Donating to Charity

The season of giving is upon us once again and it’s time to jump back into the hustle and bustle of the holidays. The gift of giving is a wonderful feeling. It’s a happy moment seeing the smile on your loved one’s face as they open each gift you’ve picked out just for them. However ,this isn’t the only reason it’s good to give to charity. Studies show that giving has added health benefits for the giver. Moreover, there are a variety of ways that those who give charitable donations can reap added (and surprising) health benefits while helping those in need.

Whether we are offering emotional support for loved ones, volunteering our time to assist an organization, or donating money to charity, there are more ways to enjoy the health benefits of giving than simply shopping for the perfect gift. Giving to a charity may make you feel good, and also help boost your physical health and mental well-being.

Check out these reasons that demonstrate how giving is good for you!

Improved Self-Esteem & Self-Worth Are Health Benefits of Charitable Giving

Donating is a selfless act. One of the major positive effects of donating money to charity is simply feeling good about giving. Being able to give back to those in need helps you achieve a greater sense of personal satisfaction and growth, it feels good to help others. Instead of putting money toward a gift someone may look at once and never use again, you can donate that money to a charity in need on your loved one’s behalf or send a symbolic gift (check out Save the Children’s gift catalog for ideas). This leads to a feeling of self-worth knowing that you’re offering much-needed resources to a great cause for those in need. As an added benefit, you and your loved one will both feel good about giving back to others.

Positive Moods and Low Depression Rates Due to The Psychology of Generosity

With positive self-esteem and self-worth comes a genuinely more optimistic mood and outlook on life as even more health benefits of giving. Studies show that donating money to charity has been proven to have a positive impact on the brain. These effects are similar to activities people usually associate with joy and happiness such as eating, exercising, or affectionate gestures like giving someone a hug. Different chemical reactions can lead to an ongoing pattern of improved mental health and well-being. Keep this in mind the next time you’re having a bad day and need something uplifting to draw from. There are many advantages of helping others, as donating can help better somebody else’s life and lead to a healthier you.

Longer Life Expectancy Is a Result of The Psychology of Giving to Therapy

As much joy as the holiday season brings, it also brings with it a great deal of stress. It’s no surprise that stress, depression, and anxiety can lead to a number health issues, headaches, insomnia, and high blood pressure (which affects 30% of all Americans). One of the reasons why giving is good for you is that it acts as a way to de-stress your everyday life. With the simple act of charitable giving, not only are you assisting the world as a whole, but you receive the added benefit of a more relaxed holiday season. As an added bonus, some studies show that the gift of giving and unselfishness is an altruistic personality trait that is closely aligned with people who live longer.

Improving the World Community

We’re all trying to make the world a better place. The holidays are a time where we can appreciate the people and causes we hold dear. One person’s charitable giving can help the greater good of humanity, positively impacting more people than a giver may ever comprehend their donation could reach. In many parts of the world, others are not so fortunate. Charitable communities help foster a happier and healthier world by improving the quality of life for those around us as a whole.

Make a Difference

The gift of giving always comes full circle. Giving is receiving and generosity is contagious. So, the next time you’re thinking about treating yourself, instead remember the positive benefits on your health that donating to charity can bring about, as well as the positive change you can help bring about around the world. Why not start now? Get involved and join the cause. We believe every child around the world deserves a bright future. Make a donation to Save the Children today to help give a healthy start in life to the children who need it most this holiday season.

Filling Homes with the Sound of Learning

By: Sarah Belanger

Sarah Belanger is an Early Childhood Program Specialist. She supervises Early Childhood Home Visitors in Jackson County, Kentucky.

When I think of why we are in Jackson County, lyrics from Paul Simon’s song “Sound of Silence” come to mind: “Silence like a cancer grows/ Hear my words that I might teach you/Take my arms that I might reach you/But my words, like silent raindrops fell/And echoed in the wells/of silence.”

A child not learning causes a type of silence in a community. In the song, Simon compares the growth of silence to cancer, just as a lack of learning can spread ignorance, misinterpretation, and place limitations on a child’s potential.

Members of Jackson County’s communities, however, are realizing that they can change the way their children are learning by committing to early childhood education. I had the privilege of meeting one such mom, Courtney*, who signed up for our Early Steps to School Success (ESSS) program. Targeting children from birth to age five, our program builds strong foundations for parenting and school readiness. As part of the program, a home visitor regularly provides Courtney with information on child development and helped her plan activities that help her use her own skills and resources to support her children’s development. In addition to home visits, ESSS facilitates parent/child groups, book bag exchanges, and community connections.

Courtney was once a young mother from rural Kentucky, who, like many parents in isolated regions, had no idea that her relationships and actions would have a significant impact on her babies’ brain development. For years she survived “on a shoestring” — as they say around here — without a job and succumbing to the temptations poverty presents – one being substance abuse. Although she desired to be a good mother to her three children, they were eventually put in the foster care system.

Having her children taken away motivated Courtney to change her life. She worked hard to recover from drug dependency, and succeeded. In time, she married and had three more children.

I am impressed by the strides Courtney has made to become a better mother. I’ve seen firsthand how she embraced the Early Steps to School Success program and understands now how important it is to read to her children. Through a resource called Vroom — an initiative of the Bezos Family Foundation — she learned that she could have a part in her children’s brain development. The five principles – look, chat, follow, stretch, take turns – help parents understand the science behind their child’s learning. Vroom incorporates activity cards, an app and a playbook as learning tools. It was humbling to hear the sound of children learning in Courtney’s home.

Not only has Vroom and ESSS helped Courtney, but events have been held in all three of the elementary schools in Jackson County to share the Vroom message. Community members have come together to share information as well. Every time a Save the Children home-visitor meets a family, more people in Jackson County hear that they can help their children learn, and make a commitment to teach others to stop the sound of silence.

*Name is changed for privacy

To learn more about how Vroom is innovating Save the Children’s Early Steps to School Success program, visit our website.

My School, A Place that Makes Me Feel Safe

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By Melany

Edited by Selvia Vargas

Sponsorship Community Mobilizer

Save the Children Mexico

December 15, 2017

Hello, my name is Melany and I’m 4 years old. I live in Mexico City, a big city with a lot of cars, people, houses, streets, stores and noise. My mom takes me to school by bus every day. She says I have to pay attention because it’s dangerous. My school is the place I like the most because I can learn and it’s quiet and clean. They give me healthy things to eat and I can play with my friends.

During the holidays I missed coming to school to study and seeing my friends. I like coloring, but I like it best when my friend Paty colors with me. I also like playing with the blocks in my classroom. It’s fun, we use them to build things. I love building robots the most – I make them large and colorful.

Melany shows how she’s learned to write her name.
Melany shows how she’s learned to write her name.

They are teaching me numbers and letters. I can write my name all by myself now. My teacher helped me a lot. “M” is the easiest letter because it’s the first and the “a” is always the hardest.

My friends from “Los Children” (Save the Children) visit my school sometimes, the ones with the red t-shirts. They helped us form a committee, which I love to be a part of with the other kids in my class. When we get together we talk about our school, like about the yard toys that are old and can cut us. Then we talk about how we can fix them. We think it is important to tell all the other children about our committee so that they can help us take care of our school, too. We also learn how to know dangerous situations, and how to protect ourselves when we are out in the city. We include our parents in our meetings sometimes, to support us in keeping our school clean and safe.

 Melany playing with blocks, getting ready to build a “robot”.

Melany playing with blocks, getting ready to build a “robot”.

“Los Children” came once to measure me and they told me I am healthy, but that I had to eat well and exercise to stay that way. That’s why those same friends came to talk with my mom and my teachers, and they taught them how to prepare good and delicious food for me, something our parents didn’t know so much about before. I like eating in my school, the food is always yummy. I like soup and fruits, especially mangos and strawberries.

The children’s committee and Save the Children have set up a school orchard, too. There we have planted many different things, and we are waiting for them to grow so that we can soon prepare more healthy food with these vegetables.

Thanks to support from our sponsors, Save the Children Mexico is giving children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. Thank you from Mexico City to all of our sponsors who have helped make life better for children like Melany and her classmates!

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.

To Learn and To Play

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Yasintha Bere

Data Quality and Communication Officer

Save the Children in Indonesia

December 8, 2017

“To take care and educate your own child is simply a task of parents and almost everyone does it, yet to do the same for the other children is a matter of choice,” said Henderina in a conversation with sponsorship staff while meeting in her home. Yes, Henderina is one of those who chooses to educate not only her children – Yedija and Grace, ages 3 and 9 respectively – but also the other children in her community, at their sponsorship supported Reading Camp. She has been trained as a community volunteer by Save the Children in order to run the Reading Camp in her house for the local children. She believes that reading can be the window for the little villagers to see the world and to achieve their dreams.

As the Reading Camp had just been established, children ages 6 – 10 came with great enthusiasm. They came together to play games that strengthen their literacy skills and to learn to read the newly provided books. “It was such a joy to see children enjoy the games and learning. You can see that this is what they really need, to play and to learn through games with their peers.” Before sponsorship helped establish a Reading Camp in their community, children had very little access to books or other reading materials. Most have no books at home of their own, and there was no community library available.

After the Reading Camp was established, children like Maksimilianus, Fransiska and Ananda came with great enthusiasm.
After the Reading Camp was established, children like Maksimilianus, Fransiska and Ananda came with great enthusiasm.

With the creation of the Reading Camp, two challenges of improving the reading ability of local children were solved. Firstly, with the provision of books, which could also be lent to children so they could read them at home. Secondly, through the provision of a passionate facilitator like Henderina, who helps them to be motivated to learn and who encourages group learning styles that makes learning amongst friends fun for the children.

Henderina realizes that children this age cannot be forced to learn in a way adults may be able to. They need friends. They need to play. Therefore, in her Reading Camp, she tries to incorporate learning through play every day. Children can learn phonetics, letters and vocabulary through singing, playing games, solving puzzles and storytelling. Henderina dedicates her time for the children happily, having fun too with them in the Reading Camp.

Running the Reading Camp in a community where not all parents are aware of the significance of education and literacy is not without challenges. One of them is finding a way to get parents excited about sending their children to the Reading Camp. Some assume that sending their children would be a waste of time, and would rather have their help around the home, such as by collecting firewood, fetching water and caring for the family animals.

Henderina believes that the primary reason for this is the low awareness among parents on the great impact that being allowed to learn while playing with their friends can have on their children. Because of this, she has taken it as part of her role as community volunteer to visit every family with children in her community, to discuss the importance of educating their children and to encourage the parents to send their children to the Reading Camp.

Author Yasintha working with kids who benefit from sponsorship programs like Reading Camps.
Author Yasintha working with kids who benefit from sponsorship programs like Reading Camps.

Her efforts bear fruit as more and more children come to her Reading Camp as she meets with more and more parents. Sometimes, parents even stay to participate in the activities themselves. “With this positive progress, I strongly believe that the children in my community can read like those in the city and can reach whatever dreams they may have. This can start here, from this Reading Camp,” she proudly stated.

Mobilizing community members to help build our programs is an integral part of sponsorship. We provide training and tools that enable children, parents, teachers and local partners like Henderina to work together to achieve common goals. Consider sharing this story with a friend or family member, to show how you’ve helped bring the joy of reading to children in the Philippines, as one of our valued sponsors! Thank you!

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.