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Top 5 reasons people donate to charity

(BPT) – In our current economy, when many live paycheck to paycheck, why do so many choose to give some of it away to charity? The fact is helping others is part of what makes us human. It doesn’t matter the age or background of the donor – it feels good to make a difference, and that starts by donating to a worthy cause close to your heart. But making a difference isn’t the only reason for donating. There are additional drivers for giving that go beyond funding a particular cause, and understanding these reasons will help you get the most out of your annual donations this year.

Emotional satisfaction and recognition
Donating to a nonprofit feels good and can impact a person’s emotional well-being. In a world so focused on materialism, it can be a positive experience to spend money to help a cause rather than simply making another personal purchase. In fact, scientific research cited in the Wall Street Journal shows that people are actually hard-wired with the desire to give and nurture, which is likely why so many people want to make a difference through philanthropic efforts. Getting a thank-you email or phone call of gratitude after a donation can really add to the joyful experience of giving, especially during the holiday season when others might not be as fortunate as you are.

Help the local community
Many donors want their gift to make a difference that they can see, which means donating to an organization that will help on a local level. This might mean giving to a small, local charity or a larger nonprofit that guarantees donations stay in the community. When people give to The Salvation Army, all donations remain in the communities where they originate, so donors feel good about helping others nearby, plus they feel more closely tied to the local area. Bottom line: you are helping your neighbors.

To maximize money’s impact
When individuals donate their hard-earned money, they want to know the majority of it is going directly to help the cause. Donors will research different charities to ensure their money is making the biggest impact possible. For example, 82 cents of every dollar donated to The Salvation Army goes directly to support community service programs, far exceeding the Better Business Bureau’s guideline of 65 percent. Through the public’s generosity in 2013, the Salvation Army served more than 30 million Americans in need – almost one person every second of every day.

Personal tax benefits
While typically not the main driver of giving, no one will argue against the tax benefits of making a nonprofit donation. Tax laws allow donors to write off charitable contributions if they are made by the end of the tax year. That means there’s still plenty of time to make a donation before the end of 2014 and reap the tax benefits while helping others in the process.

To learn more
Donating can open the doors to learning more about a charity’s mission, culture and philosophy. Many people then feel motivated to make an even greater difference through additional actions like volunteering or becoming an ambassador. One simple way to volunteer during the holidays is to become a bell ringer for a few hours with The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign. Volunteers include individuals, groups and families who bring their children with for their first volunteer experience. During the holidays, it’s a great way to embrace the true meaning of the season.

What’s your reason for donating to charity this year? Visit http://redkettlereason.org to tweet why giving is important to you and to make a donation to The Salvation Army.

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