Tuesday, December 28, 2021

End of year charitable Gift Giving Guide, Helping animal rescues and people

A year end charitable contribution can really make a difference, especially to a small non-profit. Small animal rescue groups have very few resources for "free money" and nearly all funding comes from private donations. Large umbrella groups often pay large administration fees and have seemingly unlimited advertising budgets. They rarely trickle down donations to local organizations and often are not even affiliated.

Look for groups that truly need your help! I've even found a small niche group that is not local to me that I particularly like. Research your non-profit to determine how much money actually goes to the services it provides (vs administration and fundraising). Smaller non-profits might not be registered but an online search of their reviews can be helpful.

It's not too late make a gift in honor or in memory. Holidays are often tough for those that have lost someone during the holiday season. Sadly my Grandmother passed on Christmas Day and it was her favorite holiday. A year end "in memory" donation might be the most thoughtful gift one could make. It never made sense to me to mail a Happy Holidays card to someone that had a recent loss, turn it around and send a "hoping you will find peace in 2022" message.

This year, in lieu of gifts, I requested for donations to be made to one of  my favorite non-profits. Many have social media sites on Facebook that provide frequent updates.

HOWS, Houses of Wood and Straw is an animal rescue charity that serves several counties in my area. They initially began building sturdy dog houses for chained dogs and have expanded to erecting fencing to get dogs off chains. Because of my animal rescue background, I've been a supporter for years. I understand very well the difficulty in Virginia to remove animals from a bad situation. Laws permit people to keep outside dogs and often the situation is dire. HOWS provides EYES into the community and at least makes a bad situation the best it can be, providing medical care, guidance, and property improvements. Sometimes even getting lucky by counseling pet owners to allow them to find a warm and cozy inside home for their dog(s).

My second favorite animal rescue is a niche organization in Alabama that rescues chickens. Sweet Peeps Microsanctuary rescues factory farm chickens, and even chickens that were slated to be killed in religious ceremonies. Operated by the daughter of one of my good friends, I know the funds are used appropriately. The first time I saw a truck of chickens headed for slaughter in South Carolina, I broke down in tears. It took me many years to wean myself off of chicken and turkey meat but it made such an impression to me that I never forgot this experience. Getting to know chickens on a personal level by having a flock of chickens of my own has opened my eyes to their varied personalities and antics.

Local wildlife rescues are often loaded with animals receiving very specialized care. Two of my favorites located in different areas of Virginia are Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary and Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center of Roanoke.

If animals are not on the top of your list for donation, Meals on Wheels is one of my favorite assistance programs. Providing a hot meal can often be the difference between living at home or in a facility. Covid has been especially hard on those living in care facilities. Meals on Wheels can sometimes be the first line of assistance for not only serving a meal but for checking in on someone to see if they are OK. Give directly to your local community group not the large umbrella group. 

I can't image being homeless but one would presume this to be the first step of decline of ones inner soul. We are very fortunate to have The Haven in Charlottesville that address this basic need. Highly rated on Charity Navigator (under Thomas Jefferson Area Coalition for the Homeless).

Be wise with your giving and do some research first. IRS tax laws have been improved this year for charitable giving. In general, $300 for single and $600 for married filing. 


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