A provision in the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, the fiscal cliff deal passed by Congress and signed by the President in January, 2013, provides people 70 1/2 years and older the ability to donate up to $100,000 per year directly from their IRA’s to charities. This provision will last until December 31, 2013.
Until February 1 of this year, people who took out their required minimum distributions in December 2012 or January 2013 can donate cash to charity and elect to count that distribution as a 2012 charitable IRA rollover. For donations during the rest of 2013, you need to ask the plan administrator to send the cash directly to the charity. To read more, here’s a good article from the National Council on Nonprofit.