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  • Works for Me: How I keep track of charitable donations

    I’ve been known to drop a car load of bags and boxes at Goodwill or Salvation Army without having itemized a single item for tax purposes – getting everything out of the house simply becomes more important that the deduction at some point. But I’ve started something new in the last couple of weeks, as I prepare to make a large donation to the boys’ preschool for their annual garage sale.

    As I find things we will donate, I put them in a corner of my bedroom. Then, when I have a moment, I take out a few items, snap a quick photo, and write down a general description of the item on a piece of paper. When we download the photos to our computer, I’ll put them in the taxes folder, along with a typed list of the items we donated.

    In the past, I’ve written fairly detailed descriptions of each item we donated. For example, I wrote: Boy’s t-shirt w/ dinosaur theme, blue, like new, size 24 months. This time, my list simply says, 20 boys’ t-shirts. It’s much more manageable, and I’m okay with it because I have the photo if I need more details.

    Once I’ve jotted down the items in the photo, I put them into a bag. When the bag is full, I set it aside with all of the other bags and boxes that we’re donating. I’ve set Monday as my big donation day, when I’ll bring a car load of stuff to the school.

    Do you have a shortcut or easy method of tracking your non-cash charitable donations?

    Find more Works for Me Wednesday tips at We are THAT Family.

    Previously: Calculating my non-cash charitable contributions

    Comments

    1. Corrie at "Cents"able Momma says:

      I have a similar method, except that I enter the item into It’s Deductible Online so I also have easy access to the value for taxes. Here’s my post I wrote about it…

      http://www.centsablemomma.com/2009/03/non-cash-charitable-contributions-tax.html

    2. I like the photo idea. I totally agree that “20 toddler t-shirts” is enough if you have the photo for more details when needed.

    3. I have a small calendar (one page per month) in my tax file for all kinds of small tax-deductible notes, cash or non-cash. I can note mileage, donations to church food/clothing projects, and the occasional walk-a-thon sponsorship for a friend. I staple receipts as needed and then I have one package at the end of the year to compile. It’s a little unkempt with the receipts sticking out but at least it’s all attached into one bundle instead of loose papers in my file.

    4. Wow you have some great ideas here. This year I’m trying something new. I have a large envelope in the hanging pocket where the mail goes. I’m trying to keep all tax deductible receipts in there. The donation list attached to the receipt, home improvement receipts (the ones that qualify), auto registration receipts etc. I’m hoping this works for me! I’m going to have to look into it’s deductible online though.

    5. Chief Family Officer says:

      @Corrie – Thanks, I didn’t realize that it’s free. I might start using it now to type up my list :)

      @Kelly – Messy is better than nothing!

      @Sharon – I hope it works for you, and if not, keep trying! I’ve done different things over the years, it kind of depends on how life is going, if that makes sense. Good luck!

    6. Thank you for your excellent ideas! We keep a box in the basement and one in the garage for everyday donations, take a photo and use It’s Deductible Online. I have written a series on donating on my blog…
      http://hummermoth.com/keepinghouse/2009/03/19/189/

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