Small things made big.

By Tom McLean. 07/20/2021

You may have seen some of these headlines during the past year…


It seems like major gifts and their earnest givers are everywhere these days. When money like this starts making the news, you might begin to wonder how much difference a small donation makes. Well, the truth is, small gifts are vital. In fact, most organizations can’t survive without them. Multi-millionaires and billionaires are rare. Out of a population of over 331 million in the United States, only 788 people are billionaires. Those wealthy individuals are also struggling to meet their own charitable pledges. It is likely that many of your favorite charitable organizations do not have access to any of these donors or their gifts. This means that small donations, when combined together and sometimes matched by benefactors or corporations, can make all the difference.

Charitable organizations benefit from having a broad donor base to help them deliver on their mission so that even if donor giving plans change or they lose donors unexpectedly, others donors are available to keep an organization strong. When many give in a variety of thoughtful ways organizations can build resiliency and expand their work.

Not only can our gifts go further when we join forces, but we might get as much from giving as others get from receiving. Giving makes us feel like we are making a difference, that we are leaving a better world to future generations, and that we are a part of solving something important. So, get started making something big, by giving in one of these small ways.

Six easy ways to give big by giving small


AmazonSmile is a simple way to support your favorite charitable organization every time you shop. When you make a purchase online at or through the Amazon Shopping app (Smile must be activated), 0.5% of the price of the eligible purchase amount goes to the charity that you designate. Those purchases add up. Together, charities have raise over $260,000,000 since the program began.

Give $300 or $600 each year

While we make donations to benefit causes we believe in, it is great if you can get tax benefits too! In the past, you had to make charitable gifts over and above your standard deduction to get a tax deduction. Now, however, gifts of up to $300 for single tax filers and up to $600 for married filers are deductible without needing to go through the itemization process. You can make one big gift or a number of smaller gifts.

Shares of stock or mutual funds

If you have shares of stocks, mutual funds, or exchange traded funds, these can make great charitable gifts. Selling stock often results in taxes owed. However, when you give your shares to a charitable organization, not only are you supporting a cause you care about, but you are potentially saving on capital gains taxes – and perhaps getting a tax deduction too!

Personal Will

Do you want to create an enduring legacy that embodies your values? Consider making charitable organizations your beneficiaries. When you name charitable organizations in your will or estate plan, you are making your principles permanent. Even a modest percentage of your estate designated to a charitable beneficiary can make huge impact to a philanthropic organization. Naming a charitable beneficiary in your will may also reduce your estate taxes.

Required Minimum Distribution (RMD)

For those over 71.5, almost everyone is required to withdraw a portion of their IRA each year. This is called a Required Minimum Distribution, or RMD. If you are required to make these annual withdrawals, but do not need the full amount for expenses, you may want to consider giving a portion of your RMD to charitable organizations. When you give to charitable organizations directly from your IRA (the technical term for this is a qualified charitable distribution or QCD) the amount of the gift is not taxed – and you help to satisfy your RMD.

Company Matching

A great one to double your impact is to participate in your company’s charitable giving matching program. Many companies match their employees’ donations to eligible organizations. To find out if your company has a matching program contact your Human Resources department or Charity Navigator.

It's Your Legacy

Each of us, making gifts of all kinds and sizes, can help charitable organizations grow and fulfill their missions. Do what you can and know you have done your part. Your gift makes your community and the world a little better.

Disclaimer: The information provided is not intended to provide personal financial, tax, or legal advice. This article is for informational purposes only. You should consult your tax, legal, or financial advisor to understand the impact on your specific situation and the best strategy to implement.

Tom McLean is a guest-contributor to Friendly Water for the World, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional and founder of Advitica Financial Planning. He can be reached at

Tom McLean