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Max out your good spirit

By Eyal Lichtmann

Published 1:11 PST, Fri December 6, 2019

It’s the season of giving. The holidays are coming up and thoughts turn to ways to show appreciation for the people (and animals) in our lives. This year, #GivingTuesday falls on Dec. 3. It’s a rather more kind-hearted counterpoint to the ostentatious consumerism of Black Friday.

Our team at the Regional Animal Protection Society has a few centuries of combined experience in the philanthropic world (we’re young at heart, with a lot of practice) and we brainstormed to offer some practical tips for readers to make the most of their holiday giving. Whether you choose to give to RAPS (we hope you will) or any of the other superb charities in Richmond, these rules of thumb will make your generosity that much more impactful.

First of all, get the biggest bang for your donated buck. Find out if your employer has a matching gift program. A huge number of companies will match employees’ contributions to charity. We’ve got a list of employers on our website (rapsbc.com/matching-gift-programs). And, of course, your gift is tax-deductible—but the charity has to receive it by Dec. 31 or have a Canada Post cancellation stamp from that date or earlier. Back-dated cheques or gifts that are not processed in time are legally not eligible for 2019 tax receipts, so best not to leave it to the last minute.

Many or most charities are signed up with CanadaHelps. This is, itself, a charity that works to advance philanthropy in Canada by making giving simple for charities and donors. For the charity, it means absolutely no administration work, thus making the donation go further. For the donor, it means getting an electronic tax receipt immediately.

Giving a monthly gift is a great way to (relatively) painlessly support an organization with, say, $50 a month and then, at the end of the year, you get a snappy little tax receipt for a tidy $600. A note, though: Monthly donations take a little more administration on the charity’s side. If you choose this method, doing it through CanadaHelps or authorizing automatic bank debits is less cumbersome than monthly credit card gifts or a voided cheque.

Making a gift in honour of a friend or loved one is a meaningful way to mark the holidays (or birthdays or anniversaries or Wednesdays). Most charities, including RAPS, will send a nice card letting the person know that, in their honour, good works are being done by a charity they care about. 

The best bang for your buck is donating securities. By transferring ownership of a security to the charity as a gift (such as bonds or publicly traded stocks) the entire gains on the securities are tax-exempt—you pay no taxes. And you get a tax receipt from the charity.

Another way of giving is to support the businesses run by charities where the funds are reinvested back in to helping and improving your community. You are going to spend the money anyway, so you may as well support not-for-profit business which reinvest in your community. An example of that is the RAPS Animal Hospital, a fully equipped modern veterinarian clinic where you save on costs and where 100 per cent of the proceeds are reinvested in to saving more animal lives. 

At RAPS, we’ve found that sponsoring a Cat Sanctuary resident ($25 a month) is a really welcome way to celebrate the holidays or another occasion. The honoree gets a certificate and is always welcome to visit “their” cat on Sundays throughout the year. A gift to the Animal Emergency Fund at the RAPS Animal Hospital is another sweet way to help those most in need, ensuring that no family has to make life-and-death decisions for their pet based on ability to pay. 

Don’t forget there are plenty of unconventional ways to give too. Make a new year resolution to give of your time. RAPS devotes individualized care to thousands of animals every year—only because of the small army of volunteers who make it possible. We love having helping hands at the Thrift Stores.

You can help the environment, the economy, people in need and a good cause all at once by donating to or shopping at thrift stores. Note, though: Some thrift stores, like Value Village, are for-profit businesses, at the two RAPS Thrift Stores in Richmond, 100 per cent of revenues go directly to saving and improving the lives of animals. Before supporting a thrift store, find out where the funds go.

There are so many ways to make a positive impact this season. Happy holidays.

Eyal Litchtmann is CEO and executive director of the Regional Animal Protection Society.

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