So we arrive on the last day - Tuesday, Dec. 31 - on which we can give charitable donations and receive a 2013 deduction on our taxes.

Need ideas? Gifts of appreciated stock or other securities provide significant tax benefits.

By donating stocks, bonds, or other securities, you avoid paying capital-gains taxes when you sell, and instead receive a deduction for the full market value of the security on the date of the transfer to, say, your alma mater. (Shout out to my high school, Archmere Academy in Claymont, and my Ursuline Academy elementary school in Wilmington.)

Especially for high-net-worth investors, charitable gifts of highly appreciated assets make loads of sense.

If you have investments that are now worth less than they cost you, consider selling them and use the proceeds to make a gift. This creates a loss you may be able to deduct from other taxable income, as well as a deduction for the amount of the contribution. The combined deductions may even total more than the value of the investment.

Matching-gift programs

Ask your human resources office for a matching gift form from your employer, and your favorite charity will certify that the gift has been received and return the form to your office.

Before donating through a matching-gift program, find out whether different gift methods - credit card, check, or money order; shop-for-charity; volunteering - result in different matching levels.

To what organizations should you make gifts? Tax-exempt organizations classified as 501(c)(3) organizations are those to which deductible contributions can be made. I prefer the Guidestar database ( for research. It is a terrific clearinghouse for nonprofits that includes past tax filings. If it's not in Guidestar, think twice about gifting.

Charity rollover

Once you reach age 70½, you are required to take minimum distributions from your retirement plans each year. IRA Charitable Rollovers count toward that.

The IRA Charitable Rollover was extended through Dec. 31, 2013, as a provision of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. The IRA Charitable Rollover allows individuals age 70½ and older to make direct transfers totaling up to $100,000 a year to 501(c)(3) organizations, without having to count the transfers as income for federal income tax purposes.