It’s the seventh day of our 12 Days of Charitable Giving! In December, I’ll be focusing on twelve charitable organizations which my readers have nominated as most deserving of your charitable donation. You have a couple more weeks to squeeze in you charitable deduction for tax purposes in 2014 – so why not consider one of our twelve?
Today’s featured charity is Doorways for Women and Families. Doorways for Women and Families offers a variety of services to help women and children leave situations where they are exposed to or victims of domestic violence.
This year, it seems like more people were talking about domestic violence after sports figures like Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson made headlines for their behaviors. In some parts of the country, like Northern Virginia, people have been having those conversations for some time. That’s because domestic violence is nothing new and affects hundreds of thousands of families each year. Statistically, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The National Institute of Justice report that, around the world, at least one in every four women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief, an abuser will hit their partner an average of 35 times before police are notified for the first time. Sometimes, the violence turns deadly: in 2000, 1,247 women were killed by an intimate partner.
Women and children who live in families with violence also live in fear. If they can find the courage to leave, they often find that there is nowhere to go, offering few choices. Shelters are often filled to capacity; estimates indicate that, in one year, 2,000 women seeking shelter from domestic violence were turned away due to lack of space or resources.
Doorways for Women and Families offers resources for families affected by domestic violence. Through the Doorways Safehouse, women and children can find a confidential place to stay when faced with imminent danger from an intimate partner. The 24-Hour Confidential Domestic Violence Hotline offers trained staff and volunteers who provide crisis intervention, safety planning, support, counseling and immediate assistance for abuse survivors; the hotline also serves as a community resource for families, friends, and service providers. The Court Advocacy Program provides assistance and guidance with respect to protective orders, child custody and support. And finally, the Doorways Safehouse Kennel offers shelter for animals fleeing abusive homes with their owners since many shelters will not accommodate pets.
So how can you help?
Doorways for Women and Families relies on the generosity of donors and volunteers. Volunteer opportunities include Family Home and Safehouse Coverage Volunteers who answer the hotline, provide support to individuals and families in crisis and assist staff in the day-to-day operations of the shelter; Children’s Volunteers who assist with evening childcare during weekly support groups and parenting classes or monthly dinner programs; interpreters; Administrative Support Volunteers; grocery shoppers and storage volunteers. All individual volunteers must be at least 18 years of age, complete 40 hours of training and a background check.
While you can’t deduct the value of your time while volunteering, you can deduct any related out of pocket expenses. That includes the cost of travel to and from the volunteer site: charitable mileage is deductible at 14 cents per mile. You can also deduct actual volunteer related transportation costs including bus or train fare. Keep a mileage log, or transportation receipts, to support your deduction claim.
If the organization where you volunteer requires background clearances and/or fingerprinting – but doesn’t cover the cost – those costs are deductible, too. Again, you’ll want to keep good records.
Doorways for Women and Families welcomes cash donations. To make a donation via mail, please make check payable to Doorways for Women and Families and mail to:
PO Box 100185
Arlington, VA 22210
You can also make a donation online. A receipt for your donation will be sent to you via email address; keep a copy of your receipt for tax purposes. If you choose to make a recurring donation, you will be sent an individual receipt each month when your donation is processed.
Between now and December 31, 2014, an anonymous donor has agreed to match your donation, $1 for $1, up to $50,000. That means that your gift to the organization will be doubled – for example, your $100 check is worth $200. Of course, your donation for income tax purposes is limited to what you pay out of pocket – and not the match – but the organization gets twice the benefit. For more information, check out the announcement.
You can also organize a cell phone drive. Doorways for Women and Families has partnered with Cellular Recycler. You can host a collection drive at work, church or anywhere else in the community to collect old phones (as well as iPods, digital cameras, gaming consuls, and PDAs) and turn them into cash for the organization. Recycling your phone will provide the needed funds to give a home to those fleeing abuse or homelessness. For more information, click here.
As always, you want to make sure that your donation is going to a qualified charitable organization. A search using the IRS’ Exempt Organizations Select Check reveals that Doorways For Women and Families is on the list. To find out more about the work of the organization, check out their website, like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.
Remember, submissions to the 12 Days of Charitable Giving are made by readers and in most cases, I can’t personally vouch for the good work that these folks do. So be generous. But be smart. Do your homework.
For more on making charitable donations, check out some of these prior posts:

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Author

Kelly Erb is a tax attorney and tax writer.

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