Today is non-cash donation day. Once a month. Only. OK, maybe one or two more extra times during the year but no more than 14 donations dates for the year. I went to this method after entering almost 30 donation entries into TaxAct several years ago and having to assess thrift store estimates for over 800 items. I thought I was going to pull my hair out having to sit and enter all those individual donation entries with the date, organization, address, thrift store estimate, and other details for 30 date points with six different organizations.
Data management is not my strong suit for a prolonged period but I can maintain a certain level of self-control over numbers in small chunks of time. Key word – small. Less than 30 minutes if possible. I had to streamline this process so during our tax prep time in early Spring, when we are already ISed, (Itemized-Stressed), I can perform more of a final quality check rather than total data entry for a year.
1) Identify the organizations you prefer to contribute to. I use four and keep their addresses in a Word document to cut/paste later into TaxAct. I stayed with www.CharityPickup.com as it provided a level of efficiency for me. Pickup dates are all managed via email. No phone calls to track me down. The two organizations that participate through a rotation process are Houston Achievement Place and Texas Paralyzed Veterans – local orgs so that meet another requirement. I have two others that I use as well.
2) Search the web for the most current Donation Value Guide. If you are using a tax service, your tax service may have an autocalculator for clients.
3) Create a log sheet and an Excel spreadsheet with the date, organization, number of items, item description and thrift store estimate.
4) Identify the frequency of donations and create a “setup” area in your garage, bedroom, closet, etc. If you don’t have the space, at least identify the donations through your normal decluttering process and list the item and location of it in your house on the hard copy log sheet below.
5) Ideally, as you are spot decluttering, add your item description and thrift store estimate to the hard copy donation log sheet. We do have a “setup” area, so I tend to collect things in the area and the day before or morning of the pickup, complete the log sheet. It’s more efficient for me to do it all at one time – a similar type of mental task all at one time instead of entering as I go. The setup area may shift, things may get moved, etc.
Time requirement – approximately 30 minutes to log, box, and move to the porch. Time varies based on the number of items and how organized the “setup” area stays over the 30 days.
6) Once I have the donation receipt, I enter all the thrift store estimates into the spreadsheet to autosum.
Time requirement – maximum 5 minutes.
7) Mark the hard copy donation sheet as entered. File with the other monthly donations. Done with prelim work!
8) During you tax prep time, enter the 12 – 14 donations into your tax program or give your spreadsheet and organization info to your accountant. Time Requirement – 30 minutes. Done!
Total time estimate for the year: 8.66 hours/year based on 14 donations times per year.
Ta- dah! Back flips and handsprings are now indicated. And continuous monitoring to improve the process.