What's on your holiday wish list this year? Good health? Festive cheer? A better year in 2021 for your loved ones and community?
Reaching out and giving back could bring you gifts that will make these holidays truly special and set a positive tone for the new year. Here are three reasons why it really is better to give than to receive.
- Giving is good for you.
The warm and fuzzy feeling that comes with generosity has real physical and mental health benefits. People who give back are often happier and less prone to depression, which leads to lower instances of high blood pressure and other stress-related conditions. The rush of endorphins that can accompany good deeds is also good for your brain chemistry and overall mood. Volunteering helps to keep us physically active and mentally sharp. Even if you don't feel comfortable masking up and taking a shift at your local soup kitchen, organizing a neighborhood food drive, or helping at-home learners through virtual tutoring will get you moving, thinking, and feeling. And, in our experience, folks who make giving a part of their daily routines when they’re still working often have a much easier time filling their days once retirement rolls around.
- Giving is good for your community.
It might not feel like it after a year of distancing, virtual learning, and working from home, but people are social creatures. Strengthening our connections to our communities can have ripple effects that make life better for everyone. The meals you buy from local restaurants are supporting small business owners and hospitality workers when many are still really struggling. Donating money, canned goods, clothes, and toys to local charitable organizations can have an immediate impact on families that have faced illness, job loss, and other hardships due to the pandemic. Sending holiday thank-you cards to hospital staff, your children's teachers, and other essential workers can give those folks a much-needed boost after a year in which they've gone above and beyond. And shoveling the sidewalk or grabbing the mail for a homebound neighbor can make that senior feel a little more cared for during what could be a lonely time of the year.
- Giving is good for your legacy.
According to a study by Fidelity Charitable, children who grow up in homes with strong giving traditions are more likely to donate money and volunteer as adults. Your example this holiday season could inspire your next generation in ways that will make them happier, healthier, and more impactful in their communities. If you have more concrete long-term giving goals for your family, this might also be the year that you set up a trust or your own nonprofit organization and talk to your children and grandchildren about how you can all work together to make the world a better place.
We don't want to sound like Scrooge, but keep in mind that charitable giving can have some important tax implications. Planning gifts around taxes can make some folks feel like they’re giving for the wrong reasons. But charity is part of our tax laws because the government wants to encourage giving from those who have the means. A little forethought can also make it easier for you to make sustained contributions to the causes that are most important to you.
Any charitable giving you want to claim on your taxes for this year needs to happen by December 31, 2020. If you’re thinking about ending 2020 with one more generous gesture or looking to start a new giving plan in 2021, let’s talk about how we can help you spread a little extra holiday cheer.