You Know About Black Friday and Cyber Monday. What About Giving Tuesday?

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First there was the frenzy of Black Friday. Then local mom-and-pop stores made their claim on holiday shoppers with Small Business Saturday. And as online retail exploded, Cyber Monday deals started popping up, claiming another slice of consumers' gift budgets. But it wasn't until 2012 that Giving Tuesday made its debut, kicking off the season of charity in an entirely new way. This year, Giving Tuesday falls on Tuesday, December 1. 

Celebrating its centennial this year, Helen Keller International (HKI) is at work saving the sight and lives of the most vulnerable in 22 countries, including the U.S. “Giving Tuesday is the perfect day to join forces with Helen Keller International and support our efforts toward a world where everyone has the opportunity to lead a healthy, full life,” says Nancy Haitch, Vice President of Development & Communications for HKI.

Launched by the 92nd Street Y in New York City, Giving Tuesday's aim is to connect "diverse groups of individuals, communities and organizations around the world for one common purpose: to celebrate and encourage giving." Although this is only the event's fourth year, the numbers are already impressive: The 92nd Street Y estimates there has been a 470% increase in online donations on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving since Giving Tuesday started in 2012.

It's not a coincidence that Giving Tuesday is at the end of the year, either: This will be the last chance in 2015 to make charitable donations that can be deducted when you file your tax return for the year if you itemize deductions. You can also donate property — furniture, clothing, electronics, vehicles and more — as long as it's in good condition. Be sure to get a receipt for all donations; in the event of an audit you'll need to show the IRS an invoice, credit card receipt or statement, invoice or other documentation from the charity you gave to.

You can show your support for Giving Tuesday simply by donating to Helen Keller International or other favorite charitable organizations or nonprofits this holiday season. All monetary gifts received by HKI between now and December 31, 2015, will be matched, dollar for dollar, up to $200,000.

You can also spread the word about the event, helping to raise awareness of the day and encouraging giving by sharing #GivingTuesday with your network on social media.

If you're not sure where to donate so your dollars go as far as possible, use Charity Navigator to find organizations in need. Simply search on the site by the charity's name or use categories such as health, human services, environment and human and civil rights. HKI ranks in the top 2% of all U.S. charities for its financial health, accountability and transparency, according to Charity Navigator. In fact, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof has written that "HKI...gets more bang for the buck than almost any group I can think of."

So as you're sizing up your spending budget for the holidays, be sure to save a little for an organization that does meaningful work helping others in need. Though how much you give will naturally be up to you, you can calculate the impact of your donations by using Charity Navigator's Giving Calculator:  Enter the amount of your donation and your tax rate to figure out how much the donation will really cost you when taxes are factored in. For instance, if you donate $100 and your tax bracket is 28% of your income, the net cost of your donation is actually $72, giving you a tax savings of $28.

Whether you're able to give a little or lot, you'll be honoring the spirit of the season by helping others, near and far, who very much need your help.