8 tips that can increase the impact of your charitable giving

For those with the means to make year-end giving a part of their annual (or even occasional) financial routine, donating to charitable organizations can not only provide much-needed help for the causes they contribute to — it can also create substantial personal benefits for the donors themselves.

One of these benefits, of course, is that it feels good to support a charitable cause, knowing that your donations are making a difference in the lives of others and serving to uplift the community. And from the standpoint of your personal finances, if you itemize deductions on your tax returns, contributing to qualified charitable organizations can also help lower your tax burden.

8 ways to maximize your charitable donations

Looking to make the biggest possible impact with your charitable giving? Consider these eight tips that can help ensure a strategic approach to your plans for making charitable donations — while helping deliver the biggest possible impact for the causes you care about:

  1. Choose a fund-giving fit — When it comes to selecting a charitable organization to support, there is an extremely long list of options to choose from covering a broad range of missions. When deciding where to donate your funds, give some serious thought to which causes mean the most to you, then focus on organizations that are a match for your strongest passions and beliefs. Once you’ve identified a few candidates, do some research to determine each one’s current needs and past impacts to ensure that your donation will be put to good use and is supporting an effective organization. One resource that could be particularly helpful in this area is Charity Navigator, a website designed to help people find charities that align with their beliefs, then research their ratings.


  1. Expand your impact — You don’t have to limit yourself to supporting a single charity. If you’re passionate about multiple causes, consider splitting your contributions between different charities that align with your most heartfelt beliefs. Further, if you don’t have the available funds to make monetary donations to all the organizations you’d like to support, most charities are always looking for people willing to volunteer their time and skills to support the cause — and volunteering is a great way to deliver big impacts for the organization while giving you a chance to better acquaint yourself with the organization and the people behind it.


  1. Consider consolidation — While giving smaller amounts to your favorite cause(s) each year is sure to be a big help, you might want to consider setting aside the funds you plan to donate each year in a savings account, then donating larger amount(s) every couple or few years. In addition to providing a larger and potentially more impactful sum of money to the organization(s) you support, this can help you maximize year-end contributions — and reach the giving amount at which you could lower your tax burden by going the itemized-deduction route (as opposed to the standard-deduction route) when you file your taxes.


  1. Don’t miss out on the match — As a part of their benefits packages, many employers offer their workers gift-matching programs in which they’ll match employees’ qualifying charitable contributions up to a certain amount each year. Such programs can help employees compound the funds they contribute to their favorite charitable organization(s). They can also enable employers to support worthy causes in the community while strengthening employee-employer bonds and providing an added incentive for a prospective employee to choose to work for the company. Before making your charitable contribution(s), check to see if your employer offers this benefit so that you don’t leave any potential funds for donation on the table.


  1. Build a budget for your giving — If you’d like to ensure that you have the funds available to consistently support your favorite cause(s), consider working charitable contributions into your household budget. No matter how large or small your donations may be, by factoring them into your budget, you’ll be able to ensure you make them regularly — and over time they can really add up.


  1. Consider periodic payments — By making monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly donations to your charitable organization(s) of choice, you can soften the impact of the expenditures on your pocketbook by spreading the contributions out over time rather than making one lump-sum payment. And in addition to being easier on your budget, these throughout-the-year contributions can help ensure a strong monthly cash flow for the organization(s) you support — which can increase its/their chances of long-term sustainability and success. Further, if your bank of choice offers an online banking service, you can reduce the chances you’ll forget to make your periodic donations by using the convenient service to set up a recurring payment to your charitable organization(s) of choice.


  1. Build a giving foundation for your family — If you believe strongly in charitable giving and want to teach your family members (and especially your children) about its importance, invite them to join you in your plans to donate — and when you volunteer, ask them to join in those efforts, too. (If they support causes that differ from your top choices, consider letting them pick their own charitable organizations to support.) No matter how large or small their contributions may be, having your family members participate in philanthropic efforts will help lay the foundation for a future giving spirit and future charitable acts.


  1. Think about leaving a legacy — If you’d like to leave behind a legacy of giving that continues even after you’ve passed away, consider including charitable contributions to your favorite nonprofit organization(s) in your will. This way, during the estate settlement process, those handling the distribution of your financial assets and other belongings after your passing will know to provide the amount(s) you choose to the organization(s) you’ve decided to support — and your giving spirit can live on to keep doing good for the causes you believe in the most.


Proudly serving South Carolina since 1933, Arthur State Bank offers accounts and services to meet a variety of financial needs. To help you achieve all your financial goals, the bank offers in-person service as well as a range of convenient digital solutions. To learn how Arthur State Bank can help you with banking needs ranging from checking and savings to retirement accounts, mortgages, other personal loans and more, visit arthurstatebank.com.

Arthur State Bank graphic
Man doing his banking online

AnnualCreditReport.com is the only source for free credit reports authorized by the federal government. Every 12 months, you can get a free copy of your credit report from each agency.

Your credit report has your credit history for all of your credit accounts as well as any credit inquiries and public record court information such as collections. In addition, the report provides personally identifiable information such as your name, address, and employment.

Be sure to carefully review all three reports to identify any problem areas that you may need to clean up prior to applying for a mortgage. If there is any incorrect information, follow the reporting agency’s rules to correct it or add a notation to the report to explain the situation.

Your FICO Score is a score combines data from several areas include payment history, the amount owed, length of credit history, new accounts. Many lenders use this score as a guide. This score is not provided as part of the free annual credit report.

Learn more about how your credit score impacts your ability to secure a loan.


Couple looking over finances

Primary considerations for setting your housing budget require an assessment of your income, debt and current savings for the down payment on the home. The following are generally recommended guidelines; however, you should meet with an Arthur State Bank lender to get personalized mortgage information.


Couple meeting with lender

The pre-qualification/pre-approval letter is included with any offer you make on a house to inform the seller that you have met with a mortgage lender and you are prepared to make an offer. The letter states that based on certain assumptions, the bank is prepared to lend you up to a specified amount of money for a home mortgage.

When choosing a loan officer, we recommend going local to work with someone who understands your community’s real estate market. This blog on first-time home purchases includes questions to ask your lender that may be helpful when preparing for your meeting.

Helpful Resources:


Realtor shaking hands with a client

When a house is sold, the seller typically pays real estate commission to both the listing agent and the selling agent. It is extremely beneficial for the buyer to use their own real estate agent. Loan officers can often recommend selling agents in the area; ask your officer about realtor referrals when discussing your loan.

A good realtor will know the local market and can help you find an ideal home based on your budget, location and desired features. During your search, understand that you will most likely need to compromise on some items, so it’s important to identify your critical needs versus your wants.


Couple searching online for a home

Additionally, when you start with the house search and work backwards, homes can often go off the market while you’re completing steps 1-4. While browsing homes immediately can be tempting, we recommend following these steps in order so that, once you find your dream home, you’ll be well-positioned to take action immediately.

When you find the home you want and you think you are ready to put an offer on it, you will want to make sure you have all the information you need to make a solid offer.

  • Evaluate the neighborhood.
  • Drive by the house at different times of the day.
  • Examine how other houses in the neighborhood are maintained.
  • Consider any potential traffic or other disruptive noise.
  • Is there ample parking for you and visitors?
  • Read the details in any Homeowner Association agreements (HOA fees and rules).

Make sure to do a preliminary check of house details:

  • Check the water:
  • Does it have good pressure?
  • How long does it take to get the water hot?
  • Is it well water or city water?
  • Turn light switches on and off.
  • Open and close doors and windows to make sure they work properly.
  • Review previous utility bill expenses.
  • Consider the property tax bill.


Family meeting with realtor at new house

When writing an offer contract, be sure to pay attention to all of the details.

Offer Price:

Your agent should do a market analysis that pulls data on recently sold comparable houses. The best comparisons will come from the same neighborhood.

If you are asking for the seller to pay some of the closing costs, remember that this cost plus the sales commission determines the net amount you are offering the seller for the house.

Work with your agent on your negotiation strategy. There are many things to consider, such as how badly you want this particular house, whether it is a buyer’s or seller’s market and an assessment of the seller’s motivation to get the property sold.

There isn’t one best strategy.

Be sure to document in writing everything you want included with the house, such as appliances, etc. Your agent should guide you through the contract step-by-step.


  • Home inspection.
  • Mortgage.
  • Final walk through (24 hours prior to closing).

Proposed closing date. Typically, this is 30-45 days from an accepted offer.

A good-faith deposit is required for the offer. This is typically between 1-10% of the purchase price of the house. The deposit is kept in escrow until closing and the money is applied to the purchase price of the house at closing. If the house does not close due to one of the contingency clauses, the buyer receives their money back. However, if the buyer decides not to close on the property, the seller may get the deposit money.

Attach your pre-approval letter to the offer.


Two people in professional meeting

The clock starts ticking for everything documented in the contract, including mortgage application, inspections and closing date.


Woman advising other woman on mortgage application

You will need to decide which mortgage to select prior to the application.

Plan for the following potential fees:

  • Application fee (many banks and mortgage companies charge an application fee; however, there is not an application fee at Arthur State Bank).
  • Credit check.
  • Appraisal (may be paid at closing).
  • Loan origination fee (paid at closing).

Once you have approval for your loan, make sure you don’t change anything that will impact the status of your mortgage. Banks do a final check on credit and jobs just prior to closing, so now is not the time to change jobs or make another purchase on credit such as a car or furniture.


Home inspector going over findings with home owner

Depending on the size of the house, an inspection can cost on average between $300 to $1000.

Many real estate contracts specify how problems uncovered in the inspection will be resolved, up to a certain dollar amount. Should necessary repairs exceed that amount, the buyer has the option to cancel the contract without penalty and receive their deposit money back. Another option is for the buyer and seller to renegotiate who will pay for additional repairs.


Woman happily holding keys to her new home
  • Homeowner’s insurance is required by the lender prior to closing on the loan.
  • Turn on utilities in your name, effective the closing date.
  • Change your address with the U.S. Postal Service.
  • Make moving arrangements.

Three days prior to closing:

  • You should receive your final Closing Disclosure from the closing agency. The final Closing Disclosure shows a column for the seller and a column for the buyer. All closing charges and credits for both the seller and the buyer are documented in the closing statement.
  • Review the closing statement for accuracy prior to coming to closing.
  • The final amount in the buyer’s column shows you the amount of money you need to pay at closing.

The closing office will provide specific payment instructions. Closing funds have become recent targets for cybercriminals. If you are asked to use a wire transfer, call the office and ask to speak to someone you have been working with to double-check the instructions.

Closing day:

In South Carolina, the closing will usually take place at the attorney’s office. Everyone signing for the mortgage must be present to sign the closing paperwork. Make sure you bring the following:

  • Cashier’s check or proof of payment for wire transfer.
  • Driver’s license.
  • Checkbook, just in case there are any additional items that were not on the closing statement.

Be sure to understand this information:

  • How and when you will pay:
  • Your mortgage.
  • Your property taxes.
  • Your homeowner’s insurance.
  • Any HOA dues.
  • Who to call with any questions.

The best practice is to go through the homebuyer’s roadmap in this sequence. However, if you jumped ahead early in your journey, just circle back to address the steps you missed.

Arthur State Bank’s loan officers are closely tapped into local real estate markets and experts at helping clients get what they need on terms that work for them. We also offer mortgage specials for first-time homebuyers.

To start planning your journey to your dream home, try out our mortgage calculator. If you’re ready to talk to a loan officer, contact Arthur State Bank to request personalized mortgage information today. Don’t forget to ask about our first-time homebuyer offer.