4 smart ways to support the causes you care about most

Here's how you can extend help to others if you can't volunteer in person.

Staying active in retirement is important for your physical and emotional health. One way that many retirees choose to remain active is through volunteer work within their communities. However, volunteering in person is not always possible due to health, travel, personal mobility or scheduling constraints.

Below are four smart ways you can still contribute to the causes and organizations you're most passionate about—while keeping your retirement strategy on track—even if you can't be there in person.

1. Know the revised rules for charitable deductions

In March 2020, the federal Coronavirus Relief, Aid, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed to provide financial support to individuals and businesses during the pandemic. Two of the provisions related to charitable giving were extended for 2021.

  • You can deduct up to 100% of your 2021 adjusted gross income (AGI) for cash gifts to public charities (up from the usual 60%). If the value of your gifts exceeds 100% of your AGI, you will carry any excess gift amounts into next year.
  • If you do not itemize deductions on your federal tax return, you can now take a charitable deduction of up to $300 for cash donations made to qualified organizations in 2021. This benefits those who typically do not itemize their deductions and therefore typically do not receive a tax benefit from their charitable contributions.

These provisions are scheduled to expire at the end of 2021. You'll also want to watch for any potential changes to the rules or dollar amounts for annual gifts in 2022.

Top 5 charitable causes

In 2020, the following types of organizations were the top beneficiaries of charitable contributions.

Charitable inline

Source "Key Findings From Giving USA 2019: The Annual Report on Philanthropy," givingcompass.org, 2019

2. Donate stocks or bonds

Donating cash is not the only way you can financially support your favorite causes. You can also give stocks or bonds from your portfolio to the charities of your choice. This includes securities like publicly traded stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. And, because you'd be donating them, you would be able to deduct the full fair market value of the assets without having to pay a capital gains tax on them. Better yet, neither would the charity.

If you plan to donate stocks or bonds, be sure to speak to a tax professional as well as your financial advisor so you understand the tax implications as well as the effect on your investment portfolio.1

3. Consider a donor-advised fund

One of the most effective ways to manage your charitable donations is through a donor-advised fund. A donor-advised fund is a charitable vehicle offered by many foundations and financial institutions. Once you've established a donor-advised fund account with cash or other assets such as stocks or bonds, you can invest the money you've put into the fund. This gives it a chance to grow tax-free for as long as you need it to. Usually, you can also receive a charitable deduction when you fund the account. In addition to its tax advantages, a donor-advised fund makes it easy for you to act as both donor and advisor, because you control when and to what organization each donation is made.

4. Volunteer from home

Not-for-profit organizations are making it easier than ever for volunteers to donate their time and talents --even if they can't be there in person. Look for opportunities to take advantage of your existing skills and expertise or develop new skills in areas that interest you. If you have a writing background, you may be able to help with communications. Some organizations are looking for fundraising volunteers to call people or for help in developing or maintaining their websites. These are only a few of the many opportunities available to people seeking ways to volunteer virtually.

Determining which charitable giving strategies may work best for you can be challenging. This is where your professional advisors, including your tax professional, estate planning attorney and TIAA advisor can work together to help you develop a plan that reflects your goals. To learn more, schedule time to speak with a TIAA advisor today.

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1The TIAA group of companies does not provide legal or tax advice. Please consult your legal or tax advisor.

This material is for informational or educational purposes only and does not constitute fiduciary investment advice under ERISA, a securities recommendation under all securities laws, or an insurance product recommendation under state insurance laws or regulations. This material does not take into account any specific objectives or circumstances of any particular investor, or suggest any specific course of action. Investment decisions should be made based on the investor's own objectives and circumstances.

Advisory services are provided by Advice & Planning Services, a division of TIAA-CREF Individual & Institutional Services, LLC, a registered investment adviser