End-of-year giving

A few hours to go in the US to make charitable donations that qualify as tax-deductible contributions for federal income tax purposes for 2006. A friend and loyal E-blog reader emailed me yesterday to share some ideas for what to do with one’s “non-existent end of the year bonus”. Her list included organizations such as Planned Parenthood, the Alan Guttmacher Institute, the Freedom from Religion Foundation and Bitch Magazine. I wasn’t familiar with all of these organizations so it was helpful to get her note. (Before donating to any organization, you want to check their status to make sure contributions are tax-deductible, assuming that’s of concern here.)

I went to the Charity Navigator Web site and started looking around for information about some charities. While on the site, I noticed that arts and cultural organizations were the only type of non-profits to experience “a substantial decline in giving in 2005”. That’s worthy of note and depending on when you read this, you may have a few hours to make a difference.

In the future, I would love to find an organization that supports arts activities for children. I know that lots of such organizations exist, but I don’t know enough about them. Earlier in the year, I made a donation to the Having a Ball program of the Chicago Public Schools when the 1st Northwestern Ballroom Classic was raising funds for them. That program is like the one featured in the documentary Mad Hot Ballroom about a similar initiative in NYC, which served as an inspiration for the subsequent program in Chicago. I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for kids and I can relate to its focus given that I am an enthusiastic ballroom dancer so that’s a cause I can easily get behind.

In other arts-related giving, I made my usual contribution to the Smith College Museum of Art. In addition to the general merit of supporting a museum of that type, I have particularly fond memories of it, which is why I like to support it. I had an absolutely amazing experience there as a senior when I trained in their museum guide program. I was just sorry I only got inspired by my senior year and thus didn’t have that many opportunities to give tours before I graduated.

You’ve heard me mention certain other organizations here before such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Creative Commons. It looks like the latter is less than $1,700 from its goal of $300K for the year. Hopefully with the weekend donations they’ll make it over that mark.

I’ve posted about the Darfurwall already. I made two additional contributions in the last couple of days. (They only give you the option of picking one number to light up per donation so I don’t know what other numbers were lit for each additional dollar in any one donation.)

I lit 330033 on darfurwall.org I lit 306603 on darfurwall.org

Links on the wall: 330033 and 306603.

Supporting the ACLU is a bit complicated from the tax deduction perspective. Since the ACLU itself does a lot of lobbying, those contributions are not tax-deductible. However, there is also the ACLU Foundation, to which donations are tax-deductible. It seems that both are important to the overall cause of supporting civil liberties so I tend to split my contribution between the two.

Those are some of the organizations I have supported this year and thought I’d mention in case you were inspired to make some last-minute donations. Suggestions for arts organizations that work with kids are welcomed.

Of course, the amount of money I am able to give to any one charity isn’t going to make much of a dent and I suspect the same is true for most of my readers (this is where we circle back to the comment about non-existent year-end bonuses). But my understanding is that charities need to raise some amount from the public to justify their status so in that sense number of donors should matter, not just the amount they give.

Finally, here is a link to the IRS’s Web page with the basics about charitable contribution deductions in case you’re not familiar with the specifics. Happy giving!

One Response to “End-of-year giving”

  1. Steph Says:

    Thanks for the shout-out!

    (and enjoy your lentil soup)