Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Make your voice heard -- again -- on Giving Tuesday -- Nov. 26, 2020 column


The election is over. Let’s get to work building a better world.

Americans made their voices heard in the election and can again on Giving Tuesday, Dec. 1, the annual day of global generosity after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.

Giving Tuesday encourages us to take a breath after days of consuming to reflect on what’s important to us and act on our values.

Charitable giving is more important than ever during the pandemic and recession as nonprofits have suffered a decline in donations and loss of in-person fundraising opportunities.

Wildfires, hurricanes, floods and other natural disasters have wreaked havoc on our fellow citizens. Millions have lost their jobs, leading to higher levels of food insecurity. We’ve all seen the news footage of thousands of cars in line for food. 

Nearly 26 million adults – 12% of all adults in the United States – said their household sometimes or often didn’t have enough to eat in the last seven days, the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey reported this month. 

Among adults with children, the situation was worse – 16% said their household didn’t have enough to eat, compared with 9% of those without children at home.

A federal moratorium currently prevents landlords nationwide from evicting renters, but the moratorium is set to expire Dec. 31. Food banks, shelters, health clinics and other social service organizations are straining to meet increased demand and would welcome your help.

You don’t have to give cash. You can contribute your time, energy or talent to a cause or a neighbor. During the pandemic, many organizations are seeking in-person or virtual volunteers. Check out volunteermatch.org to find opportunities in your ZIP code.

Giving Tuesday isn’t political; it neither accepts nor distributes contributions, and anyone can participate free. The idea is for each person to choose a charity, donate on the charity’s website and publicize the choice on social media with the hashtag #givingtuesday. Since Giving Tuesday started in 2012, it has spread to 220 countries worldwide.

Americans donated an estimated $511 million online on #GivingTuesday last year – up from $400 million in 2018.

If you have the wherewithal, there’s a new incentive to be generous. By doing good, you basically can reduce your taxable income in 2020.

In the past, only taxpayers who itemized deductions could take charitable contributions off their federal taxes. But the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security -- or CARES -- Act allows taxpayers who don’t itemize to take a charitable deduction of up to $300 for cash contributions to qualifying organizations.

Qualifying groups are those that are “religious, charitable, educational, scientific or literary in purpose,” the IRS says. More details

Last year Americans gave almost $500 billion to charities, and about 69% of the total came from individuals, according to Giving USA 2020, a report researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

A recent survey found 40% of donors plan to give more to charity this year than last. The survey by Classy, an online gift processor, found that the pandemic was a big motivator for charitable giving, followed by the political climate and racial justice issues. 

If your inbox, like mine, is overflowing with Giving Tuesday requests, deciding which nonprofit to support can be daunting.

A word of caution, though. Scammers are also after your money. Experts advise against clicking on the handy links that come in emails. Instead, research the organizations, then go directly to their websites to give.

To make sure your donation goes to a legitimate charity, consult Charity Navigator, GuideStar (now Candid), the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance or Charity Watch, which monitor charities.

One person can make a difference. Dolly Parton has received well-deserved praise for her long history of charitable giving, especially her recent $1 million donation to help develop a coronavirus vaccine. Her Imagination Library initiative has given 147 million books to children since 1995. She started it as a tribute to her father, who couldn’t read.

Few can sing or be as generous as Dolly Parton, but each of us can make our voice heard on Giving Tuesday.

© 2020 Marsha Mercer. All rights reserved.



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