'The vast majority of people won't benefit': Don't make this 1 mistake when you donate at the register

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"The vast majority of people will not benefit": Don't make that one mistake when donating at checkout
You know the feeling: you stand at the checkout in a supermarket or a large department store and are asked by either the clerk or the checkout system to donate a few dollars to a specific charity. And while it's not a big request to give a few bucks, it makes you wonder, "Where is the money actually going?"
The question of whether retailers benefit from your charitable donations isn't new - the answer is that they really don't. But if you donate at checkout, you might be missing out on a benefit yourself.
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With the proliferation of this type of campaign in-store and online, it's worth knowing how you can benefit from it.
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How much do charities count on this money?
Point of sale fundraisers can be big moneymakers for charities.
More than $600 million was raised across 76 different point-of-sale campaigns in 2020, according to a study by Engage for Good, which works to drive social impact at the enterprise level. The organization conducts the study on charity checkouts every two years.
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Amounts raised in 2020 were a 24% increase over what was raised through these campaigns in 2018.
Some charities depend heavily on these types of campaigns, others not quite as much, says David Hessekiel, president of Engage for Good.
"Children's Miracle Network Hospitals is one of the leading charities that have these programs, and they have numerous companies that they work with," says Hessekiel. “And I would say that this is a very important source of income for them. With most other charities that you know, it's part of what they earn.”
“Small requests” are on the rise
Part of the reason for the growth is that the "wants" in these campaigns are typically quite small: a few dollars or even a few cents just by rounding up to the nearest dollar.
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"These are all small requests and nice things to do, and it takes a certain level of human connection to be able to be helpful," says Hessekiel.
And more and more businesses are taking on the challenge of raising funds, from retailers to restaurants to online retailers.
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Hessekiel doesn't have data on how many more online retailers are getting involved or how much is being raised through this new effort, but he expects a significant increase when this year's survey is released.
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“It's consistent with what we've seen during the pandemic, which is a huge increase in online shopping...both large merchants and small Shopify-like merchants or merchants on Etsy or...eBay. This channel of giving has grown a lot.”
Decide who gets the deduction
The single request may be small, but it adds up pretty quickly, and many of these campaigns are raking in well over a million dollars.
And while many people ask if a retailer gets a large tax deduction from customers' donations, the answer is, it depends.
If you shop at a store that says they donate 10% of their proceeds to charity that day, the store gets the deduction.
But if you drop a few dollars at the checkout, keep your receipt, says Howard Gleckman, a senior fellow at The Urban Brookings Tax Policy Center.
"It's your deduction, the store doesn't get a deduction," says Gleckman.
The big question is whether it's worth it
Come tax time, you could take this receipt to your accountant to include in your charitable donation. Although most people don't end up using them, Gleckman says.
"The problem is that you don't really benefit because so many taxpayers are now taking the standard deduction," says Gleckman.
The standard deduction is often larger than the individual deductions that taxpayers might otherwise claim, so most opt ​​for the former.
"We calculated that about 91% of households take the standard deduction and no deduction for charity," says Gleckman.
In 2021, the standard deduction was $12,550, so a few dollars might not go a long way toward increasing your charitable deductions. But if you're a big donor, it might be worth asking your accountant to list your donations.
"If you make a point-of-sale contribution ... it's your contribution, it's your deduction, but the vast majority of people aren't going to benefit," says Gleckman. "But to get to the heart of the internet rumor: Your retailer won't benefit either."
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This article is informational only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without any guarantee.

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