Giving gifts that give back

Just days ago, the Georgia Center for Nonprofits hosted its third annual Georgia Gives Day, an online fundraiser that each year brings together thousands of state residents in 24 hours of giving.

More than 17,000 donors gave around $2.3 million, more money than in both 2012 and 2013 combined, officials said.

And so it’s no wonder The Chronicle of Philanthropy ranks Atlanta fourth nationally when it comes to giving. Indeed, Atlantans gave roughly 4 percent of their adjusted gross income to charity in 2012.

Tim McCarthy, entrepreneur and author of “Empty Abundance,” said charitable or “mindful” giving as he likes to call it “is a good option during any season because the giver always gets more than the recipient.”

However, he said, it can be an especially good option during November and December depending on your tax situation, but also because there are so many opportunities during the “season of giving.”

“Our family, for instance, has gone caroling at nursing homes and served holiday dinners at soup kitchens,” he said.

So how do you know which organizations to which to donate?

McCarthy said that when he can’t do the research himself, he uses www.guidestar.org, which offers basics on a charity’s tax-deductible status and recent tax filings.

In addition, Charity Navigator provides detailed listings that cover the organization’s mission, income statements, financial and accountability performance metrics, and executive pay. Each charity gets an overall star rating (four is the maximum), as well as one rating for financials and one for accountability and transparency. The Better Business Bureau gives an accreditation seal to charities that meet its standards for accountability.

McCarthy suggests Heifer International (heifer.org), a worldwide program to end hunger and poverty; the literacy program Child Aid (child-aid.org); or your local Habitat for Humanity team (www.habitat.org/local) — organizations that take small donations and have an impactful and efficient history.

Here are some other possibilities:

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    Lighthouse Family Retreat offers rest, restoration and hope to families living through childhood cancer through a seaside retreat where they can feel like a family again. Lighthouse offers special attention to every member of the family — moms, dads, siblings, and the child with cancer. For more information, log onto http://LighthouseFamilyRetreat.org or contact Josh Deyton at 678-290-2955.

  • Wellspring Living provides both residential and therapeutic care for survivors of sex trafficking in Atlanta, where more than 100 girls are exploited each night, according to the group. For ways to give, visit www.wellspringliving.org or contact founder Mary Frances Bowley, 770-631-8888.
  • Atlanta Pet Rescue & Adoption is a nonprofit, no-kill shelter dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating dogs and cats so they can be adopted into safe and loving forever homes. Donate online at www.atlantapetrescue.org/donate; by phone, 404-815-6680; or by mail: Atlanta Pet Rescue & Adoption, 4874 S. Atlanta Road, Smyrna, GA 30080. Volunteers are needed especially during the holidays, said Grace Murphy, director of development.
  • Plywood People is an innovative nonprofit that champions social innovation by educating entrepreneurs and implementing projects, including some of its own such as Billboard Bags handmade by refugees in Clarkston. For information on how to help, contact Chelsea Sabo, community manager, at 770-954-6107 or log onto www.plywoodpeople.com.
  • Camp Horizon provides year-round, no-cost camping and life-skills programs for Atlanta’s youths in foster care. The goal is to help restore dignity and hope to children, teens and young adults who have been abused and neglected — empowering them to make good decisions and lead healthy, productive lives. Both monetary gifts and new hats, gloves and fleece jackets for boys and girls aged 8-18 are appreciated. $50 pays for a complete outfit and toy for one child. Mail donations to Camp Horizon, 3904 N. Druid Hills Road #339, Decatur, GA 30033. For more information, log onto www.camphorizon.net or call Jennifer Halloran, executive director, at 770-462-4908.
  • Rally Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research seeks to lessen the gap in the underfunded sector of kids cancer research. They help fund research projects to find better treatments and cures for the cancer types that children get and the unique needs of their bodies. To date, Rally has awarded more than $5.25 million in research grants. For more information, log onto www.rallyfoundation.org or contact Dean Crowe at 404-847-1270.

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