What "recycling" means to your social impact personality type

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Recycling and respecting a sustainable environment are growing in popularity as a key component of healthy, well-rounded life.

When we first began our 10 Ways to Do Good surveys in late 2012, an average of 82 percent of respondents answered “Yes,” recycling is in the mix of their social impact activities. By early 2018, nearly 90 percent of most survey groups showed recycling as a preferred way to do good.

Here is how recycling plays into all three Social Impact Personality Types. Which one are you?

Activator

What an Activator says about recycling:

  • “It’s our responsibility as humans and civilizations to leave the earth in better shape than we found it.”
  • “I make certain to track the latest scientific studies about global warming and the melting of the polar ice caps. I need to stay informed.”
  • “I simply cannot work for a company that does not clearly commit to best practices in sustainability.”

Four Recycling Activities Activators Enjoy

  1. Writing letters to elected officials advocating for conservation legislation.
  2. Advocating for a zero-waste-to-landfill program at work.
  3. Investigating best practices for a rooftop garden in the neighborhood and assisting with plans for its development.
  4. Making phone calls to local food retailers who don’t display recycling bins near the checkout counter or another spot where customers can easily deposit recyclable materials.

Connector

What a Connector says about recycling:

  • “Our family loves spending time outside and appreciating the beauty of our natural environment.”
  • “I like to attend informational meetings in my community about the latest efforts to generate renewable energy.”
  • “My ideal workplace is a LEED certified building. The positive energy is a real boost for me and my colleagues.”

Four Recycling Activities Connectors Enjoy

  1. Structuring weekend outings around visiting a farmers’ market.
  2. Prioritizing national parks when selecting vacation destinations.
  3. Adopting a family pet from rescue agencies or animal shelters.
  4. Teaching children at a very young age about the rules for recycling.

Investor

What an Investor says about recycling:

  • “I don’t hesitate to call my local waste management company whenever I have questions about how to get rid of large items, paint, and dead branches. I want to dispose of it in the right way.”
  • “We have a glass recycling center about a mile away, and I plan my route to work so I can drop off empty bottles.”
  • “Our neighborhood dry cleaners is environmentally savvy. The owner has won awards for its eco-friendly cleaning process. That’s the dry cleaner I use!”

Four Recycling Activities Investors Enjoy

  1. Growing organic gardens and using the produce at every meal possible.
  2. Placing a recycling bin in every room of the house where waste is discarded.
  3. Replacing plastic silverware with stainless steel (and volunteering to wash the dishes) in the break room at work.
  4. Installing energy-saving light bulbs in every fixture in the house.

Making the environment a priority is a powerful way for individuals, families, and communities to participate in today's social impact culture. Rethinking how to do regular, everyday rituals is a great way to feel good and inspire your friends, family and colleagues to do more good and feel better, all at the same time.

92% is a magic number for risk-proofing your employer brand

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Employee engagement and workplace culture are all the rage as the talent market tightens up. Recruiting, retention, and productivity are more elusive than ever for fast-growing companies.

There’s certainly no shortage of ideas and products to choose from when it comes to engaging today’s workforce talent. Not only is there no shortage, but some financial experts also say the market for workplace culture tools and technology is overcrowded and even deluged with possible solutions for the forward-thinking human resources buyer.

That’s why it’s important to stop and think carefully about what you are trying to accomplish with your culture and engagement—before you spend a single dollar.

Over the course of several years, our team has heard three things, over and over:

1. “Please, not another typical survey.”

In most companies today, no one—really no one—has the time or tolerance for complex, slow, expensive, or—let’s say it—boring surveys designed to gather routine information about associates’ perceptions of the workplace. Both leadership and talent alike are fatigued and skeptical.

2. “It’s bigger than the job.”

Today’s talent doesn’t just want a paycheck. The entire workplace experience is important. Culture, giving back, family, health, values, fun, personal growth, and inspiration all play a role in career and corporate success. Social impact is the missing view of the talent mindset, and every company needs it.

3. “Show us results!”

Nothing is worse than being asked for your feedback and then having it seemingly disappear into a black hole. People want to see results when they give their perspectives and information. Celebrating, learning, and sharing are critical elements of all workplace data capture initiatives.

We heard you!

By combining work, life, community, and wellness factors into an uplifting diagnostic, the Embolden team created a tool designed to help companies get in touch with their talent’s mindset, in a way that is positively reinforcing, fast, different, and immediately reportable and actionable in terms of the data it delivers.

This diagnostic, called Employee Vitals, actually makes people in the company feel good.

That brings us to the magic number: 92% of the thousands of people who’ve taken Embolden’s 7-minute diagnostic since we launched it in 2012 said it made them feel better.

We think that’s something for everyone to celebrate!

Social impact lifestyle and your wardrobe: More connected than you think

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“I’ve got nothing to wear.”

Who hasn’t said that before, even though studies indicate that the average person wears only 20 percent of the clothes in their closet? At the same time as some of our closets are overflowing, millions of other people need assistance with basics like food and clothing. More than 43 million people are living in poverty in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

How can the average person help? In today's social impact culture, it's easy to take on small projects as part of your overall community engagement portfolio. Case in point? Spring cleaning, trimming your closet, and donating a few bags of gently-used clothing to a charity is a popular form of "doing good" in the contemporary application of philanthropy. What's more, donating clothes to people in need isn’t the only good that comes from downsizing and paying more attention to how you build your wardrobe.

Let’s look at the issue.

More than 80 billion pieces of clothing are purchased worldwide each year. That is a 400 percent increase from a decade ago! Those are the staggering statistics from True Cost, a 2015 documentary film about the garment industry.

A recent article in the Atlantic, “Where Does Discarded Clothing Go,” offered these data points:

  • In New York City alone, clothing and textiles account for more than 6 percent of all garbage, which translates to 193,000 tons tossed annually.
  • Americans recycle or donate only 15 percent of their used clothing, and the rest—about 10.5 million tons a year—goes into landfills.
  • Only half of donated clothing gets worn again.

The good news here, though, is that much of the portion of donated clothing that actually can be recycled is ground down and re-formed into things like insulation, carpet padding, and industrial rags.

Don’t forget that your clothing donations may be eligible for a tax deduction. The Internal Revenue Service requires that a value be placed on each item. So how do you know what it’s worth? Check out Goodwill Industry International’s suggested valuation of commonly donated items of women’s clothing. For example, tops, shirts, and blouses are valued between $2 -12, T-shirts between $1 - 6, and jeans in a range of $4 - 21.

Many charities also accept donations of cars, large appliances, building materials, office furniture, computers, and electronics. Some charities are even happy to swing by curbside at your house or come to your office to pick up things.

Think outside the box, too. If you’re healthy and up to it, consider donating blood. Nearly 5 million people need a blood transfusion each year, according to the American Red Cross. When you donate blood, you are truly saving lives.

Reviewing your closets, cabinets, and wardrobe with a critical eye and doing good go hand-in-hand. You will feel a lot better about your own social impact by paying closer attention to what you choose to buy. And when you stop loving that top or pair of jeans, make sure to donate it to a charity instead of throwing it in the trash. Donating is good for your community, it's good for the world, and it's good for you.

Three simple reasons people (truly) love their jobs

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In February 2010, we launched our first pilot project to better understand the work-life-community-mindset, which was just beginning to emerge along with the acceleration of mobile technology and the rising influence of Millennials and GenZ.

This February, we’re celebrating Valentine’s Day by sharing what we’ve learned over the last eight years about why people love their jobs in today’s turbulent and changing culture.

So what are the reasons people truly love their jobs? In the mind of today’s employee, it boils down to three things.

Reason 1: “You get me.”

People who love their jobs are more likely to make comments like this one:

“My company makes a genuine effort to match my job duties and work conditions with my strengths and preferences.”

This means more than just positive reinforcement and real-time feedback for growth. The hundreds of employees interviewed by our team over the years are most delighted when their employers take the time to help them understand themselves, as well as how they are suited for a particular job.  

“Millennials feel underutilized and believe they’re not being developed as leaders.” 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey

Tools like the DiSC and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator are useful; however, faster, cheaper alternatives are now available and can work just as well. For example, our next generation workplace culture tools include a diagnostic that can help instantly empower an employer to:   

  1. Offer leadership roles to appeal to employees who are "Accelerators."
  2. Offer socializing opportunities to appeal to "Interactors."
  3. Offer dashboards and giveaway opportunities to appeal to "Enterprisers."

Reason 2: “I’m human.”

People who love their jobs are more likely to make comments like this one:

“My company treats me like a real person.”

The net-net here is that employees want their employers to acknowledge that they have a life outside of work, care about their health and wellness, and enjoy being involved in their communities.

A productive, positive employee experience has emerged as the new contract between employer and employee. Deloitte's 2017 Global Human Capital Trends Report

Employers can make huge strides by understanding just a few factors about employees’ favorite healthy habits, purchasing preferences, and productivity zones. That’s because these data points in turn allow a company to make small tweaks with big ROI, like these:

  1. Optimize menu options, activities, and timeframes for employee events.
  2. Add low-cost perks to match employee health priorities.
  3. Evaluate office hours based on mix of employee energy levels.  

Reason 3: “Celebrate!”

People who love their jobs are more likely to make comments like this one:

“My company actively celebrates a culture of community.”

Celebrating a social impact culture is frequently cited by company leaders as the “secret sauce” for maintaining high levels of engagement. Wrapped into employers’ branding strategies now more than ever, community engagement has become a key factor for boosting a company’s reputation as a good place to work.

69% are likely to apply to a job if the employer actively manages its employer brand (e.g., responds to reviews, updates their profile, shares updates on the culture and work environment). Glassdoor U.S. Site Survey, January 2016

Still, there are hundreds of combinations of social impact activities available as part of a single workplace program. Many workplace programs include several of the following options for employee engagement:

  • Giving to charities
  • Volunteering
  • Serving on boards
  • Purchasing products that support a cause
  • Celebrating at community events
  • Recycling
  • Donating food and clothing
  • Marketing favorite causes
  • Sharing with colleagues in need
  • Caring for health and wellness

Understanding the right mix of “ways to do good” based on employee preferences is the key to cost optimization, program participation, and community impact. Here are three disciplines of employers who know how to unlock the “secret sauce” of social impact culture to increase the odds that their employees love their jobs:

  1. Focus community activities the top three preferences.
  2. Reduce activities that are least popular.
  3. Use statistics in recruiting materials to show a culture of engagement.

To help you understand what today’s changing employee mindset means to your company, be sure to seek out fast, simple, and inexpensive tools to gather data and help boost retention, productivity, and recruiting success--without disrupting your company’s programs that are already in place and working well.

Four ways industry is changing fast to engage the digital native generation through the work, life, community, wellness mindset

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A new consumer mindset inspired by the digital native generation is profoundly changing the way our society approaches "doing good" as part of a healthy lifestyle. Here's what's going on:

  • Fueled by technology and social media, community impact has become intertwined with the way consumers judge brands, make purchasing decisions, choose an employer, give to charity, invest assets, and make health care decisions.
  • This "work-life-community-wellness" mindset is beginning to define the way we live and work.
  • The digital native generation--people born after 1983--is already a population of 80 million and growing. In an era where Uber, Amazon, and crowdfunding have become the norm, this generation has very different expectations for access, service, and cost from companies with which they do business.

Check out these industry trends to see how things are changing--fast:

1. Trending in the healthcare sector

Technology continues to drive a consumer-centric healthcare mindset, moving away from the hospital and clinic mindset. Here's how::

  • "Inside" technology. In 2013, for example, the top new technology breakthroughs included robotic telepresence in hospitals, Watson in medical practice, social media in hospitals, robot exoskeletons, Google glasses, and genome sequencing for under $1000. In 2017, this list looked a lot different.
  • "Outside" technology. Last year, the top new technologies deployed in health care included artificial intelligence, patient/provider platforms, transplants, remote testing, advanced therapies, 3D drug printing, and personalized dosing. Indeed, technology is causing care to move out of the traditional hospital or clinic setting. 
  • New definition of "health." Market changes continue to indicate that the emerging consumer's definition of “health” is influenced by work-life-community wellness factors, including social impact. As a result, the connections between wellness and a consumer’s physical health, mental health, and social impact behaviors are defining 21st century health care.
  • New data is needed. Consumer perspectives about the broader roles that health and community play in their lives present a key factor to interpreting and applying rich stores of pharmacy, medical, and behavioral data. This, in turn, will better optimize how to interpret consumer data for better patient health outcomes and more cost-effective treatments.

2. Trending in the philanthropy sector

The entry of the socially-conscious digital native generation into the workforce has failed to make a difference in the social sector. Here's how this is playing out:

  • Supply and demand disconnect. The number of charities has more than doubled from 654,186 in 1996 to more than 1.6 million today. According to Giving USA, at end of 1999, dollars flowing from philanthropy to these organizations stood at 2.1% of GDP. And that's exactly where it sits now, at 2.1%. Supply and demand are out of balance.
  • Increasing social consciousness. At the same time, the data points are consistently documented in dozens of studies showing that Americans are committed to philanthropy and want to make a difference.
  • Donor power. There is perhaps no better example of the shifting philanthropic mindset than the rapid rise in popularity of the donor-advised fund. According to a report issued in 2016 by the National Philanthropic Trust, contributions to donor-advised funds hit an all-time high of $22.6 billion in 2015. This represents a record-setting 8.4% of total giving in America. Assets held in donor-advised funds now tops $78 billion, which is more than double the 2011 level of total assets which was just over $38 billion. The total number of donor-advised funds in 2015 was 269,180, up 11% from the year before. By comparison, the 81,802 private foundations in the U.S. grew at only 3% year-over-year. Donor-advised funds are quickly becoming the charitable planning tool of choice, showing us that people enjoy getting involved with their own giving and pursuing philanthropy, by doing it their way

3. Trending in the workplace

With 94% of millennials reporting that they want to use their talents for doing good, employers are starting to pay attention to "doing good" in the workplace.

Here's what you might be seeing:. 

  • Employees want to celebrate "doing good." If you are in charge of a community engagement program at your company, you're no doubt seeing the new mindset at work when you ask your employees about the ways they prefer to do good and you get an overwhelmingly positive response.
  • Employees want employers to pay attention to it. The positive response you get is because you are reinforcing your understanding that freedom in philanthropic pursuits is a driving force in their lives, and you are signaling that your company will honor employee passions for making a difference..

This employee-centric approach is good for business, according to studies:

  • 87% staff turnover reduction in companies with high engagement
  • 88% of new job seekers choose employers with a high employee engagement
  • 20% improvement in financial performance in companies with high employee engagement

4. Trending in the consumer goods sector

Advertising firms are very aware that 90% of consumers want to purchase products and services from companies that support social impact. The evidence is everywhere:

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No matter what your profession or business, it's time to get in touch with the emerging work-life-community-mindset. Don't let your target audience engagement strategies fall behind. Seek out and adopt effective tools to gather, analyze, and use contemporary behavioral and cultural data to drive your business growth.

Why doing more "good" in 2018 will make you feel better

Feeling good

At first glance, philanthropy and positive psychology appear to have very little in common. Philanthropy is a term generally associated with giving money to charities, doing good in the community, and creating social value.

Positive psychology usually conjures up images of an academic approach to emotional strengths and virtues that enable people to thrive.

But there is indeed a connection. After all, philanthropy, according to the classic dictionary definition, means a “love of humanity” in the sense of caring, nourishing, developing, and enhancing “what it is to be human” on both the benefactors’ and beneficiaries’ parts. The connection is right there.

Here are three reasons this connection should make you feel better about amping up your community involvement in 2018, both at home and in the workplace.

  1. Social impact activities are good for your health.

The benefits of philanthropy aren’t limited to your mood. After scouring websites, journals, blogs, articles, and more, our team of researchers uncovered dozens of studies linking philanthropic behavior and improved physical health. Research suggests activities such as volunteering and giving can lead to a longer life, lower blood pressure, and better pain management.

If you're skeptical, try this experiment:

Ask your friends to describe their favorite charities and community activities, and then watch their body language closely as they talk. If your friends are like the people in our research study, you will see them visibly relax. You may see them become more upbeat in their words and tone. They may lean in a bit as they share their stories. And they may keep talking longer than you expect. What's happening? Your friends are proud, confident, and emboldened about the role of social impact in their well-rounded, healthy lives. They are happy as they talk about it. They actually feel better.

2. The range of social impact activities is expanding, giving you more choices for "doing good" than ever before.

Giving to charities is not the only philanthropic activity going on in the lives of Americans.

Our team conducted a five-year research study--published last year in our book, Do Good, Feel Better--to discover the components of today’s culture of philanthropy and how it impacts engagement in organizations, companies, and donor groups. Today’s culture of philanthropy embraces the full range of social impact behaviors: Giving to charities, volunteering, serving on nonprofit boards of directors, celebrating at community events, recycling and respecting a sustainable environment, marketing a favorite cause, donating items of food and clothing, purchasing products that support a cause, sharing with family and friends in need, and caring about health and wellness. These activities are called the “10 Ways to Do Good.”

Certainly this expansion of the “doing good” footprint in America has contributed to the continued enthusiasm for dollars flowing into favorite causes, whether those causes are supported through philanthropic institutions, financial institutions, or through workplace giving programs. It's also created a whole new paradigm for a "social impact lifestyle" where all generations thrive on the integration of work, life, community, and wellness.

3. Social impact activities are good for your career and business.

Social impact has become a key component in today's workplace. Today’s market leaders view social impact behavior as a catalyst for connecting human resources with marketing, building emotional loyalty with employees and consumers and, in turn, boosting employer brand and business results.

The contemporary imperative for workplace performance is not only about the head, but also about the heart. Executives need to get inside employees' emotions and mindsets to understand how employees see themselves in their lives, work, and community. This type of culture-building, in turn, gives employers the tools to tweak employee engagement programs so they are embraced by employees and effective to drive results.

Our research for Do Good, Feel Better uncovered the following statistics:

Cheers to your health, wealth, and happiness in 2018, thanks to a work-life-community-wellness mindset!

Redefining giving: "10 Ways to Do Good" emerge in today's culture

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Our research project to discover the contemporary philanthropic mindset began in earnest almost seven years ago. We had no idea that we were on the verge of uncovering such pervasive cultural trends in our society. No longer is giving to charities the only way people “do good”; indeed, the entire spectrum of social impact activities has given way to a brand new approach to “giving” as part of our lifestyles.

Early in our research, we were hooked on the well-documented positive effects of charitable giving and wanted to know more. We wanted to understand the experience of charitable giving from the broadest point of view possible to discover human behaviors and emotions that extended beyond the act of writing a check and into the well-rounded lives of the people we were interviewing.

So we asked about giving this way: “What are your favorite ways to do good for others?”

Wow! Little did we know that question would wind up being the single most important factor in our multi-year research study involving thousands of interviews with executives, human resources professionals, community engagement experts, donors to charities, civic leaders, teachers, mothers, fathers, children, and just about anyone who would talk to us.

By changing the subject of our questions from the traditional “writing checks to charities” to “giving and doing good,” a whole new paradigm emerged.

First, the people we interviewed wondered what “counted” as doing good; for example, did being on a school fundraising committee count if they weren’t the head of it? Lots of people commented that they loved celebrating at charity events and thought that should count as making a difference. We heard about marketing favorite causes on Facebook. We heard about people cleaning out their closets and donating clothes to a homeless shelter.

We heard many, many good things.

We also heard one message loud and clear: People are doing good in a variety of ways--not only writing checks to charities--and they want to feel even better about it.

From the very first interview in our research, it was overwhelmingly clear that giving to charities was not the only philanthropic activity going on in the day-to-day lives of real people. Giving turned out to be just one of ten “social impact” behaviors regularly practiced and enjoyed by the people in our study.

Through our hundreds of interviews and experiments in real-life situations, we observed and documented the contemporary point of view that philanthropy embraces the full range of social impact behaviors:

  1. Caring about health and wellness
  2. Giving to charities
  3. Volunteering at a charity
  4. Serving on a charity’s board of directors
  5. Purchasing products that support a cause
  6. Recycling and respecting a sustainable environment
  7. Donating items of food and clothing
  8. Marketing a favorite charity
  9. Sharing with family and friends in need
  10. Celebrating at community events

We call these activities the “10 Ways to Do Good.” We started out talking about one activity—giving—and it turned into more than three years exploring nine additional activities. One plus nine equals, you got it, the 10 Ways to Do Good.

People loved the 10 Ways to Do Good. They loved talking about them. When they did, they were happy and authentic and confident and empowered and full of optimism and possibility. We knew we were onto something.

Today, we continue to be inspired by so many visionary leaders in philanthropy, healthcare, financial services, and retail who are actively incorporating social impact principles into their work to redefine giving. The work-life-community-wellness mindset of today’s culture is something everyone can celebrate.

Sharing: Reflecting on an original form of philanthropy, with or without a tax deduction

Sharing as a form of philanthropy

The income tax charitable deduction was first introduced by the War Revenue Act of 1917. At the same time, federal income tax rates were increased to help fund World War I. Lawmakers were worried that the increases in taxes would reduce support for charities, thereby increasing charities’ reliance on government, which in turn would require another tax increase.

But philanthropy is a lot older than 1917! “Philanthropia” is a word from the ancient Greeks that means “love of humanity.” For centuries, human beings have depended on kindness to each other, and helping people by sharing some of what they have with people who need it.

Fast forward to today, when many Americans consider philanthropy to be part of a social impact lifestyle. How does sharing what you have with others fit into the picture? I think about that a lot, especially as I reflect on a scene that repeats itself over and over at my house. The item in question has changed over the years, but the "sharing" play-by-play is still the same.

It goes something like this: Child #1 yanks a Barbie sticker book right out of Child #2’s hands. Catching Child #1 in the act, I jump into the fray. “What do we know about sharing?” I typically ask. “I don’t like it!” retorts Child #1. This is followed by my futile attempt to convince my daughter that she shouldn’t even want the book in the first place because all of the stickers are gone. But that would be too logical!

Sharing did not come naturally to my children when they were toddlers! As my girls get older, though, they are learning a lot more about the value of sharing. Not only does it keep them out of trouble, but they are learning that it also feels good to let others in on the fun of whatever you’re doing.

Sharing as a form of "doing good" isn’t just for kids. Think about how many times each year or month you help out a friend, neighbor, or family member by giving a little bit of what you have. You might cook dinner for a neighbor who is under the weather, slip a few dollar bills into the envelope going around the office for a colleague who needs help paying medical bills, or stop by a retirement home with your kids during the holidays to drop off sugar cookies.

"Sharing" is a great way to describe philanthropic acts that don’t quite fit the Internal Revenue Code’s definition of “doing good.”

Here’s a good example. A few years ago, a bank manager called me for legal advice. He was interested in collecting money to set aside for a ten-year-old’s education. The child’s parents, customers of the bank, had recently died in a car accident. The man wanted to do something good to help the little boy who was tragically left without parents.

“I’d love to set up a bank account and ask my friends at the office to contribute money to support the child’s future education,” he explained. “We’ve also had calls from bank customers offering to help. Is this something I can do?”

“Of course you can do that,” I said. “What a wonderful idea!”

“Great,” said the bank manager. “And we all will get a tax deduction for our contributions, won’t we?”

Ooh. That’s not how it works. “Unfortunately not,” I said. I explained that the IRS does not allow charitable deductions for gifts that are intended to benefit specific individuals or families directly. “The issue is potential self-dealing and private benefit,’” I said. “There’s no objective criteria or application process for selecting this child as the beneficiary,” I explained. “For a charitable tax deduction to apply, you would need to set up the scholarship fund under a 501(c)(3) organization and then create an open process where this child and other children could submit applications for the funds. You would need an independent group of people to evaluate the applications, and there could be no guarantee that any particular child would receive the money.”

“That doesn’t make any sense,” the bank manager said. “I’m not getting any benefit by doing this, and neither are the people who would be contributing money. But still no tax deduction. Are you sure that’s right?”

I was sure. This is a question I hear a lot, actually, because so many people want to support friends and family in need. Many people assume there will be a tax deduction available for their contributions.

“It really is a nice thing to do,” I said reassuringly. “Just because the IRS doesn’t think it qualifies as a charitable contribution doesn’t mean it isn’t good. You are making a huge difference in the life of this child!”

The bottom line is this: You can’t claim a tax deduction for money you give directly to your friends, family, or a person or family in need. But sharing what you have with people who need it still counts as “doing good”! Make sure to give yourself a high five every time you help people in ways that don’t fall under giving to a 501(c)(3) organization or otherwise qualify for a charitable tax deduction under the Internal Revenue Code. You're good!