Steven Wallace

Steven Wallace

PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE: In a recent survey by Charity Navigator Blog, they asked charities “what percentage of annual contributions from individuals does your charity receive at year-end (roughly speaking the time from Thanksgiving to New Year’s)?” While the answers ranged from 0 percent to 100 percent, on average, charities receive 41 percent of their annual contributions in the last few weeks of the year.

Because of the economy, most of us in the Mid-coast have had to pinch pennies over the last couple of years. Basic math dictates when expendable income is reduced, giving “slows down.”

 

 

For corporations and businesses, this might be in the form of sponsorships to noprofit organizations. For individuals, this may mean the amount of time they spend volunteering their time or the amount of money they donate. As a chief executive for a nonprofit that depends on both donated dollars and volunteer time, I can attest to how crippling even the smallest deduction in either of these services can be to an organization’s mission.

Regardless of the reason your business or personal donations have slowed, I am writing to remind you of the importance of donating to worthy local Mid-coast organizations this year. For me, any organization that helps kids, animals and seniors is a worthy donation. That being said, there are so many local charities with other worthy causes that it is often hard to pick — did you know there are more than 100 charity organizations in Brunswick alone?

I recommend going online and searching Charity Vault (www.charity-charities.org) to look for a local charity that fits your passion — maybe a charity that has helped you, family members, or friends in the past. Once you find it, there are several ways you can donate. Look at their website, look up their local track record, and donate accordingly (to include becoming a volunteer committee or board member).

One of the most common ways many of us give at the end of the year is to donate cash, clothing and household items. By doing so, we usually get some pretty good personal tax write-offs, too. While write-offs are nice, knowing that somebody is getting a hot meal, a coat and gloves, and socks and shoes for their feet is more gratifying to me — maybe I’m just old-fashioned that way.

The gift of giving doesn’t have to stop at contributions to organizations — you can also give up to $12,000 per individual to as many people as you’d like and pay no gift tax. If you are able, I can think of no better donation then giving someone a chance at an education or a new lease on life through medical treatment. Eligible gifts include paying for someone’s education, funding medical bills for others, or gifting appreciated stocks and/or securities. (If this interests you, don’t take my word for it; call your accountant to get the full details and authorized deduction amounts.)

In closing, I would like to say giving is about much more than tax savings, it is about kindness. Lao Tzu writes, “Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.”

So regardless of what you are able to give — kind words, kind gestures, kind gifts and donations — please, make an effort to give what you are able.

From the chamber’s board of directors and staff, have a Happy New Year. We look forward to serving you, our business community, and our 16 Mid-coast communities at large during the new year. Together, we can make 2013 one of our best years yet.


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