Will April be the New December?

Recently, I sat down and looked at the Charitable Giving Reports for 2012 and 2013.  As I read through the information in front of me, I noticed something I had known for some time, but I still found it interesting.  December is the most successful month for charitable giving.

If you look at the giving through the months of the year, charitable giving in December is  twice that given in any other month.  I think this true for two reasons.  First, December is holiday season for several religions.  People are more generous around the holidays, and most nonprofit organizations send out year end appeals that arrive during that time, hoping to tap into that generosity.  Second, for those that itemize their tax deductions, they look at their records and give to get the most of their tax advantages.  This is a boon to charitable organizations and educational institutions.

This could change, if the new Congress has its way.  In July of 2014, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reported that Congress floated the idea of extending charitable tax deductions until Tax Day, April 15, and it had a great deal of support. In December, Eugene Steuerle wrote a thoughtful opinion piece supporting this idea.  What he wrote makes a great deal of sense.

Unfortunately, the bill did not make it past the Democratic controlled Senate to get submitted to President Obama.  This is unfortunate, but not surprising.  Since President Obama took office in 2009, he has actively tried to reduce the charitable deduction because he, his supporters, and the Democratic party believe that the government should solve the nation’s problems with taxpayer money, leaving the charitable sector out of the picture.  If you have read my post, “The Charitable Deduction Conundrum,” you know I do not agree with this philosophy.

This year, both houses of Congress will be controlled by the Republican party, and there is a great deal of interest in reforming tax laws.  I can only hope that Congress makes tax reform a priority this session and makes giving to nonprofits easier for those who can.  Extending deductions until April 15 would do this, and it might take some of the pressure off Federal spending.

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About greatergoodfundraising

Richard Freedlund has been active in the nonprofit sector in a number of ways, both professionally and as a volunteer. He is the founder of Greater Good Fundraising, a business that helps schools and organizations raise money for their programs while accomplishing something positive for the community. After living in Oregon for 27 years, he has returned to his hometown of Rockford, Illinois and hopes to make his mark on the nonprofit sector there. He is the father of a talented jazz musician and the son of philanthropic parents that continue to support multiple causes. To contact Richard for consulting, fundraising, or speaking opportunities, email greatergoodfundraising@gmail.com or reach him on Twitter.com @ggfundraise
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4 Responses to Will April be the New December?

  1. Nice post!! – I like it!!!

  2. Richard, I have mixed feelings about extending the tax-deduction deadline for charitable gifts. I’m not sure I see the point. After all, if I “missed” making a donation prior to Dec. 31, 2014, and I want to give in March, I’ll still get a deduction; it will just be in 2015 instead of 2014; what’s the big deal for most folks? On the other hand, I’m not sure there’s much of a downside to the plan.

    There are also other pending issues in Congress for the charity sector including renewing (or, better yet, making permanent) the IRA Charitable Rollover, the provision for the donation of conservation easements, and the provision for donations from food inventories.

    While all of the above issues are important to the nonprofit sector, there’s an even greater challenge: the US National Debt. The National Debt is now over $18 trillion and climbing. The US Unfunded Liabilities total over $92.5 trillion! While the economy continues to improve, the growth in the National Debt and Unfunded Liabilities threaten to crush the economy at some point in the future. Ultimately, the National Debt and Unfunded Liability issues will have a greater impact on the nonprofit sector than all of the various giving incentives being contemplated. Your readers can learn more here: http://wp.me/p1h0KY-Hw .

    • Michael,
      As I am pretty sure you are aware, the charitable tax deduction was created so taxpayers could support organizations which did service for their communities so they would not come to the government for funding. Sadly, our sector has become too reliant on government funding and is part of the problem. I believe that the more individuals come to support charitable organizations in their efforts, the less government should financially support them.

      I totally agree that the national debt has grown far too large for the country’s good. I also believe that Congress must act responsibly and cut its spending and close loopholes that allow corporations to get out of paying their fair share, and they must stop giving multi-billion dollar handouts to private corporations. This corporations include energy companies, banks on Wall Street, and automotive manufacturers.

  3. Richard, you’re commentary is very much on target. Thank you starting this conversation.

    Tax incentives that encourage charitable giving are good. Government handouts, to nonprofit organizations or for-profit corporations, are often not good. Unfortunately, government officials from both major political parties have figured out that they can buy votes with taxpayer money. The more dependent people and corporations become on those government handouts, the more beholden they become to the elected officials who dole-out the goodies; that results in more control for the government and, as Tocqueville predicted in the mid-1800s, an erosion of our democracy:

    “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”
    ― Alexis de Tocqueville

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