by Nancy Brown, CFRE, president/CEO, Winona Community Foundation

An over-cooked turkey. Aunt Lu’s fruitcake. The office ugly Christmas sweater contest. Some traditions deserve a change including the stress of making your charitable contributions before the clock strikes midnight on December 31. Now is the time to make your gifts to your favorite charities and the Winona Community Foundation is here to help.

When it comes to making charitable contributions, make sure your maximizing the tax-beneficial options available to you.

If you have a highly appreciated asset, such as stock, consider transferring shares directly to charity. When you do this, you won’t pay capital gains. Your charity gets the full value of the stock. You get a tax deduction for the value of the stock on the day you transferred it.

If you’re 70.5 and are taking required minimum distributions from a qualified retirement account, consider making a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) to charity.

Depending upon how you make you gift, timing is important.

Gifts by check should be dated on or before December 31. Consider mailing it no later than December 15 to make sure there is no question as to in what year you made the gift.

Gifts by credit card are considered complete the day and time the payment is processed. If your card is not run before midnight on December 31, the IRS will determine your gift was made in 2020. Please note that many organizations close well before midnight!

Gifts of stock, mutual funds, and other securities must be fully transferred to a charity on or before December 31. Remember, a lot of folks are attempting to finish transactions at the same time and your broker may not have time to execute your request if you wait until the last minute. To be safe, start your transfers no later than December 1.

Gifts made via the IRA Charitable Rollover must be complete by the end of the business day on December 31. Be especially careful if you can write checks directly from your IRA account. The check must clear the bank before December 31 for the Qualified Charitable Distribution to be considered made in the current year.

If making gifts to charity is part of your holiday-giving plan but you’re not sure which causes to support, consider starting a donor advised fund at the Winona Community Foundation. The Winona Community Foundation is your resource for all things philanthropy and charitable investing, but only your accountant or attorney can render accounting or legal advice. Happy holidays!