With the new tax reform, NOW is the time to give

By Laine Himmelmann 

Laine Himmelmann

With the new tax reforms there will be quite a few changes coming our way in 2018 and for those who work for, receive services from, or enjoy donating to nonprofits for the tax benefit – the outlook is pretty ominous.

In addition to changes in tax brackets, no longer being able to deduct moving expenses, mortgage interest deductions being lowered for homeowners, and a slew of other titillating “reforms” that you can read allllll about here, one of the most jarring changes for those anywhere connected to the 501©3 industry are the changes to the charitable giving deduction.

What is the charitable giving deduction and why do I care?

Under the new tax reform the standard deduction will be doubled – meaning 95% of taxpayers will be taking the standard deduction and only donors who are donating over $12,000 a year for single filers or $24,000 for married couples will be able to get a tax-deduction based on their charitable giving.   So whereas for the past several decades charities have been able to use tax deductions as an incentive for donors to give, now only 5% of tax payers will qualify for a tax-deduction based on their giving. (Estimates suggest this could reduce charitable donations by as much as $13 billion per year beginning in 2018).

Why is now the time to give?

Current law will apply to anything donated in the calendar year of 2017 – meaning any donations made before midnight on December 31st are still tax deductible based on the current tax plan.

Also, nonprofits do amazing work and now, in a time where resources at the Federal, State, and local government level are already at an all-time low and nonprofits are bracing themselves for what these tax reforms will mean on their ability to do crucial transformative work in the communities they serve- donating this holiday season is a way to show your nonprofit community that you stand behind them.

Where to give:

When deciding where to give, make sure to do your due diligence and check out your charity of choice on Charity Navigator– they rate charities based on how much of your donation goes directly to programs (rather than admin or fundraising), as well as accountability and transparency. 4 stars mean this charity is doing an exceptional job and that your donation is going to get where it’s supposed to go. Also, try to give where you live and designate your donation to a local charity!

(St. Jude’s is great, but they don’t have a single location on the West Coast, let alone in Sacramento. Not to mention they’re supported by a hoard of celebrities whereas Shriner’s in Sacramento is serving children and families in our own community and is one of the top 30 children’s hospitals in the country. Don’t forget that many “big name” charities, such as Habitat for Humanity of Greater Sacramento and Ronald McDonald House Northern California may share the name of the larger national (or global) organization, but are actually completely locally supported and do not receive funds from the national chapters – so the work they do here in our own community is made possible only through local donations and support).

If you don’t already have a charity that’s close to your heart or you want to expand your charitable giving, Sacramento is home to some truly incredible nonprofit organizations.

No matter where your give or what you give, I would encourage everyone to reflect on this past year and try to give a little something to a nonprofit that’s doing work close to your heart – and if you can, try to make it a recurring gift that goes beyond just the holiday season. Even $10-$15 a month can go a long way and as they say, “If we all could do just that one little thing what a wonderful world this could be…”

As for where I’ll be giving, I’m a firm believer in putting my money where my mouth is so I already made my year-end donation a few days ago to Habitat.

Need some inspiration?

Here a list of just a few organizations where others in your community will be designating their end of the year donations and why:

Housing

Eskaton “…because #SeniorsMatter but only 2% of giving nationally is directed toward senior causes” – Laura Ball

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Sacramento “”My five-year-old daughter says that when she grows up, she wants to be a builder so she can build homes for people who don’t have them. We told her there is an organization that does just that, and she really wanted our family to make a donation for the holidays.” – Laurel Sunderman

Furry Friends:

SPCA : “Especially around the holidays, I try to donate to a variety of charities… As a lover of animals, I want to try to give back as much as I can to help animals who are not as fortunate.” – Jessica Metzen Almond

Human Services:

A Touch of Understanding A uniquely awesome, vibrant Granite Bay 501C3 teaching disability awareness to students throughout NoCal … We may have tools or look different on the outside, but we’re all pretty much the same on the inside.” Karen Parsegian

Carry the Future It helps refugees by getting baby carriers and supplies for the parents in Europe and in the middle east” – Ashleigh Williams

Sacramento LGBT Center (and the Sacramento Theatre Company / WEAVE) “I’m a board member at each of these organizations and strongly believe Sacramento needs all three!” – Patrick Harbison

WEAVE WEAVE because I work there and see every day the impact of philanthropy. I also believe that I must be willing to invest in the agency if I am going to ask others to do the same.” – Julie Bornhoeft

Wellspring Women’s Center “Great local program that helps women and children. They serve nearly 200 people a day, and have great programs that provide everything from safety net services to art therapy!” – Katelyn Downey

Yoga Seed Collective: “The Yoga Seed Collective is the only non-profit yoga studio in our community that offers yoga outreach services to schools, prisons, recovery centers, pyschiatric facilities and so much more. Their services spread wellness throughout our community, please consider them in your end of year donations!” – Lisa Murphy

Recreation/Arts/Culture/Library

Pacific Crest Trail AssociationIt’s headquartered here in Sacramento and actively protecting some of the most beautiful and wild scenery in the West. While I’m not an avid hiker, I am a nature lover and I want future generations to be as blown away by wilderness as I have been.” Yolanda Torrecillas

Sacramento Central YMCAThe Y provides so many resources for the community and their Y Assist Grants make it possible for lower income children to have access to after school programs, rec sports, and nutrition assistance.” – Austin Webster

Sacramento Public Library “I take advantage of their services and want to support that as well as their wonderful programs and efforts for child literacy and more!” – Meghan Sullivan

The Kids

Aging Up – “It’s a much-needed resource that empowers and connects youth with any experience in foster care with mentorship opportunities and programs like life-skills workshops!” – Tori Anadon

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Sacramento “Because you can watch the donation have a concrete effect on a specific life.” – Jeremiah Harvey

Christian Brothers High School “100% of dollars donated to tuition assistance go to help low income kids have an amazing education. If you’re looking for local high impact outcomes CBHS has it. College readiness and admissions for low income kids graduating from CB are more than double state and national averages.” – Nancy Smith-Fagan

Make-A-Wish “I believe hope can bring healing to critically ill children in our community. 89% of doctors agree, a wish positively impacts a child’s health!” – Nicole Foster

Faith Based

The Table UMCThe Table is a place where people who have been burned and bored by church can experience God’s love for all. All Means All.” – Linda Dew-Hiersoux

P.S. One last donation pro-tip! If you still carry a checkbook, try to give by check (or money order). Credit card donations are great, but more of your donation will reach the nonprofit if you pay by check and they don’t have to pick-up the credit card transaction fees. 

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