K.C. Belitz: Giving back this holiday season

Originally published in the Columbus Telegram

I’m sure for many of us, the end of this year feels different than most (or any) before it. There’s likely more a sense of relief with the ending of 2020 than typical, and I hope for you a sense of better things to come in 2021.

My prediction is that one tradition that will stay in place at the end of 2020 is the generosity of Nebraskans. Every year, charities across the state see a wave of contributions that really make a difference for these organizations. In fact, December tops every other month for the number of gifts made to affiliated funds of Nebraska Community Foundation.

You might question if that will hold true this year and you would be justified in asking that question. But I would say we have ample evidence that Nebraskans continue to give and give generously even with the uncertainty that we’ve all faced this year. Communities in the NCF network have seen that generosity manifested in support for challenge campaigns, like in Seward where they’ve matched two challenge grants this year! There have been successful, even record-setting, giving days across the state. There have been multiple significant gifts given from families near and far to Nebraska hometowns.

Generally year-end giving is driven by the impact of tradition and feelings of goodwill toward our neighbors, but also more pragmatic considerations like tax planning. At NCF, we regularly work with donors and their professional advisors to identify the best ways to meet their charitable giving wishes. For many donors, not only does that mean support to their favorite causes, but also financial planning that can prove advantageous to their own finances.

So let’s say you are among those who have an interest in year-end giving. Well, another way 2020 has been unique is this year there are some specific considerations in the law that may be worth thinking about for your family. There’s plenty of nuance in those circumstances, so you’ll have to check with your advisors on what’s best for you…but it may be worth your time!

As we consider year-end contributions and making sure it all goes smoothly, here are some guidelines from NCF that I think apply to any charitable giving you are considering.

– Send contributions early to guarantee processing in 2020.

– Credit card gifts and online gifts must be completed by Dec. 31.

– Non-cash gifts may require additional lead time. Gifts of securities and charitable IRA rollovers should be initiated no later than Dec. 18.

– Livestock markets and grain elevators may be closed on certain days around the holidays.

Make sure gifts of ag commodities are transferred and processed prior to December 31.

As illustrated in that list, when it comes to charitable giving, cash is far from the only way to contribute to the causes and organizations you care about most. Real estate, life insurance and ag commodities are all being used by Nebraskans to give back to the non-profit organizations and hometowns they hold dear.

If you plan to partake in the annual tradition of giving back during the holidays and you’d like to know more about any of the details I’ve mentioned, reach out to the fund in Columbus, Boone County, Butler County, Leigh, Howells, or your hometown and let’s start a conversation. I hope you’ll experience the joy of giving and close out this unique year of 2020 by taking a positive step that makes things better for your neighbors and friends!

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