Making the Most of Your Charitable Holiday Giving

The Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore specializes in helping donors and nonprofits maximize the positive impact of their generosity

The holiday season is often filled with feelings of warmth and generosity. With the giving spirit all around, being savvy about how and where you donate can maximize your impact and ensure you feel good about where your money is going. 

“As one of the region’s leading philanthropic experts, The Community Foundation assists donors and nonprofits every day in charitable giving and nonprofit capacity building,” said Community Foundation President Erica Joseph. “While the need for financial and volunteer support is tremendous, being wise in your giving will give you peace of mind.”

This giving season keep these simple tips in mind:

Verify Who You are Supporting
Always verify a nonprofit’s charitable status. Donate to trusted charities and beware of scammers who create fake charities. Remember that tax-exempt and tax-deductible are not the same. Check a nonprofit’s status on your state’s charity database,, or at

Get to Know Local Nonprofits
Nearly every cause is represented by the robust nonprofit sector here on the Lower Eastern Shore. When you know a nonprofit well and work with them regularly, you will have greater confidence in where you are donating your money or time. Reputable nonprofits are eager to talk about their goals, services, and fundraising needs. You should feel comfortable asking questions that increase your understanding of the impact your gift will make. 

Understand Local vs. National (or International) Organizations
If giving local is important to you, it is wise to understand if you are giving to a national organization or a local chapter. Check with the local branch of an organization about the best way to donate — you may be able to specify that your gift be used for a particular branch or a local need.

Giving More Than Money
Donations of time and expertise are a thoughtful way to give back. For example, volunteering, donating clothing or food, or sharing your professional expertise may be very appreciated. Check before donating items to ensure items meet any requirements and do not become a to burden manage. By connecting in this way, you may find great joy in meeting like-minded people who are passionate about similar causes as you.

Set Up Recurring Donations
Recurring donations are a great way for you to give affordably year-round. By setting up an automated donation, your support will be ongoing, and you won’t have to remind yourself to send a gift each time. 

The CFES team, from left: Sharon Dickson, Veronique Diriker, David Plotts, Katerra Marshall, Erica Joseph, Cathy Diekmann, Victoria Kent, Heather Geraldes, Shelbie Thompson, Lauren Anstead. Not pictured: Jessica Atwood.

Don’t Feel Pressured 
Reputable charities realize not everyone can give to every cause and understand a “no, thank you.” The holidays bring a higher frequency of donation requests at public locations. If an organization or individual is pressuring you beyond a simple ask, this may be a red flag. Avoid on-the-spot decisions or pressure to give to an unfamiliar organization. Responsible organizations will welcome your gift tomorrow as much as they do today. 

Involve the Whole Family 
Creating traditions and passing on the giving spirit is a key part to creating your legacy. Involving children and grandchildren in charitable activities teaches philanthropy and family values and ensures the benefit of your charitable goals extends for generations to come. 

Consider a Donor Advised Fund or Estate Planning Strategy
You can support causes you care about when and where it is convenient for you through a Donor Advised Fund. Contributions are generally tax deductible right away and you can decide when to support your favorite charities. Donor Advised Funds are a great option for donors who want a hands-on approach to giving, while benefiting from the diligence and charitable guidance of a community foundation.

Leaving a bequest, giving life insurance, or using a charitable gift annuity may help you commit assets now that will carry on your legacy in the future. 

Maximize Your Tax Benefits to Increase Your Giving
There are unique tax-saving options to increase your giving. Donors can use charitable contributions to reduce tax liability and increase the gift impact by donating long-term appreciated assets (stocks) directly to a nonprofit. 

Contributions from your IRA to a charity (Qualified Charitable Distribution) are an easy way to reduce your tax burden and support your favorite nonprofit. Individuals 70½ or older can contribute up to $100,000 per year tax-free from their Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) directly to a charity (certain restrictions apply). 

Endow Maryland state tax credits reward donors for gifts to qualified endowment funds at Maryland community foundations. These funds support urgent community needs and provide maximum flexibility over time. Always speak with your tax professional about the best strategy for your situation.

Overall, your philanthropy should be something that makes you feel good and helps your community. As a regional community foundation, CFES is here to help, even if your contribution is not made to them. Contact the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore
at or 410.742.9911. CS


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