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Useful Tools & Tips For Your Year-End Charitable Giving

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The end of the calendar year is also the end of your chance to donate money or items to charitable causes - if you’d like to deduct them from the taxes you’ll file in 2015.

With that in mind, Lake Effect's Mitch Teich spoke with our personal finance contributor, Janet Marie Tierney about charitable giving. Tierney is a volunteer financial educator and a Senior Business analyst at Fiserv.

  • The Internal Revenue Service website offers free tools to accomplish as much as TurboTax can. For your specific tax deductions, use the program Its Deductible.
  •  What is deductible? Monetary gifts to non-profits, mileage used to drive to volunteer at non-profits, and partial-value deductions for in-kind donations. Remember to save the original invoice(s).
  • Keep an itemized list of what you have donated including items, where they were donated to, date of donation, estimated value and take a picture of all donated items for your records
  • Determine if the non-profit of your choice is qualified as a 501(c)(3) organization before you donate. Visit the charity's website or call to confirm if they are eligible for deductible contributions.
Personal finance contributor Janet Marie Tierney discusses how to decide what organizations to give to and some easy ways to do so.

  • Rely upon personal recommendations when deciding on which charity to donate to. Don't judge a non-profit the way you would a company. They are looking to raise money, not spend it with marketing materials, so look at what they are doing in your community.
  • can help you decide which organization to donate to. It rates non-profits, annual reports and person-to-person information.
  •  Check if your employer offers matching gifts and also look into corporate or bank sponsored events.
  • Charity Miles app allows users to earn up to 25 cents a mile for running. This application is corporate sponsored, so there is no out of pocket cost.
Audrey is a producer, host and reporter for Lake Effect. She is involved with every aspect of the show — from conducting interviews, editing audio, posting web stories and mixing the show together.
As a volunteer financial educator and contributor to this program, Janet Tierney helps people develop the skills needed to achieve financial stability. Janet has used her business acumen and fundraising skills to benefit many area non-profit organizations, including The Park People of Milwaukee County, Alliance Française de Milwaukee, Bel Canto Chorus, Women for MACC, and SHARP Literacy. She is currently a Senior Business Analyst at Fiserv, Incorporated.