Financial benefits of donating to charity

Posted by Becky Gulden

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - It's day three of our series "20 Days, 20 Ways to Survive the Economy."

Experts say the economic crisis is going to last well into next year and, perhaps, beyond.

On Monday, we showed you some ways you can maximize your 2008 tax return and put yourself in a better position, financially, early in 2009.

The fastest way to increase your refund is to donate to charity and you can do it without spending a dime.

Thirty men and women from Aramark's Star Team are donating their time to build a new playground and renovate the Salvation Army's Women and Children's Shelter.

"We're going to do some landscaping, we're gonna be doing some painting on the inside, kind of changing the whole outlook of the location here," said Tom Batewell from Aramark Star Team.

Volunteering is one of the easiest ways to donate without spending cash.  Even though the IRS doesn't allow you to deduct the hours invested, you can deduct any expenses directly related to the project.

These volunteers can deduct 14 cents a mile for all travel made to from and during the construction of this playground.

Plus, they can deduct the expense of any supplies or materials they personally donated.

If you simply don't have time to volunteer, there are several other non-cash ways you can donate that are tax deductible.

You can donate clothing, food, appliances, electronics and pretty much anything.

Right now, the Salvation Army is home to more than 170 women plus 130 children.  The organization is in desperate need of clothes and food.

"We do everything here at the shelter, not just shelter people, we provide anywhere from child care to transportation, assistance with school supplies, uniforms for kids," said Deronda Metz from the Salvation Army.

The IRS allows you to deduct the fair market value of anything you donate, from clothes and food, to appliances, electronics, even automobiles.

If you're looking for some hard numbers, we found a calculator on

On average, you'll see a 25 dollar tax credit for every 100 dollars you donate and that's cash or other goods.