It’s November. You are already receiving donation letters from many reputable and worthy causes. It happens every year. Many of you will be generous and many local agencies will spread holiday cheer throughout our community because of you.
Very practically let’s look at some pragmatic discussion about year end giving. Many people start to examine their financial position as the year end approaches. They realize that some timely donations will have very positive impacts on their 1040. There are advantages to donating appreciated property before December 31. Giving appreciated assets carry multiple tax benefits. They are generally deductible at full fair market value, if owned for longer than one year. This donation also allows the donor/taxpayer to bypass capital gains tax. Then there are advantages to donating depreciated property before December 31. According to one source “The amount of your deductible loss combined with the charitable deduction may actually amount to more than the current value of the investment.” And, of course, the always welcome gift of cash can serve to reduce your tax impact, if you itemize your tax deductions. Through a cash gift it is possible, based on the size of the gift and income, to eliminate income tax on up to 50% of your taxable income. Larger gifts may result in tax savings in as many as six years. Don’t you just love the subtleties of the tax code?
At United Way, Henry Johnson, the Executive Director, and Amy Williford, Director of Community Engagement, talked about year-end giving. Amy suggested that donors who are giving sums to impact their taxes should be sure to check with their financial planner to help develop a successful giving strategy. Henry has his own year-end giving strategy. He wants to make sure that United Way has helped make donors aware of all giving opportunities in the community. Henry has alerted United Way agencies to provide information on needs and special holiday programs. He has advised his member agencies to list these opportunities at 211, the phone service that works to link those who want to help with those who need help. He has suggested that this strategy should tell donors who is collecting what; who needs toys, or gifts for elderly; and who is looking for holiday volunteers to help distribute the gifts. Amy added that everyone has a big heart this time of year and this is a great opportunity for us all.
In our meeting we also discussed the importance of year end giving to local agencies. Many agencies are not organized enough, nor large enough for year round development operations, so year end solicitations are a big part of their fund raising strategy.
Is there any one special place to send your money? I stopped to visit Carol Kitchen at the Department of Social Services. Carol works hard managing the needs of DSS clients against what the various tax supported programs allow. For example, there really is no line item for, say, Christmas toys for foster children. So Carol has learned where to find the Christmas Spirit. She says that all local agencies work together to make sure community resources get to everyone in need, or alone, or all the things one shouldn’t be at Christmas. Of course, the kids have her heart and she makes sure the kids get gifts collected by “Share the Magic’ and by “Toy Run.” In addition, she points out that, from Salvation Army to Bounty of Bethlehem, this community is demonstrating that Christmas isn’t about tax deductions, its about the Message.
So check 211, check your Church programs, look into the activities of your favorite agency. And if you donation is worth enough to substantially impact your tax savings, you have been blessed with success in life and we are blessed as a community that you heard the Message, too.
November 2004 Year End Giving