November 12, 2018

Giving Charitably in Edmonds

With the holidays and 2019 right around the corner, the opportunities to give back and get involved are many. A community becomes stronger the more that citizens get involved, whether through donating time or money or both.

In Edmonds, we have several nonprofit organizations spanning many worthy causes and groups who need help.

From youth sports like Pacific Little League, the Edmonds Senior Center expansion, our local Edmonds schools, homeless students through Washington Kids in Transition, local ecology with the Sierra Club, Edmonds Center for the Arts, the MS Helping Hands Donor Closet, the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce, and historic preservation through the Edmonds Historical Museum…and that’s just a small list.

Of course charitable organizations contribute to the common good and provide help to others, they also serve important functions you may not realize.

The economic impact that nonprofits play in our community often goes unrecognized. Nonprofits employ nearly 250,000 people in our state paying over $13 billion each year in wages. Across the United States, 1 in 10 jobs are in the nonprofit sector and contribute nearly $900 billion in GDP.

Nonprofits are often community hubs that bring diverse groups of people together, forging enhanced relationships and understanding among citizens, neighbors, and businesses. When people work together for a common goal, friendship and deeper community roots are a natural result.

New tax laws and deductions on charitable gifts

There has been information floating around about how the new tax laws may affect charitable giving and deductions. We checked in with Nancy Duffy at McDevitt & Duffy CPAs to give some insight.

“The new income tax law (the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, TCJA) had many changes, but charitable giving has remained unchanged. Some may have a misperception and believe you can no longer deduct charitable giving, but this is only because for many people using  the new higher standard deduction instead of “itemizing” and filing a Schedule A in 2018 will result in an overall lower tax liability. The TCJA almost doubled the standard deduction amounts to $12,000 for singles (up from $6,350) and $24,000 for married joint filing couples (up from $12,700)”, she told us.

Nancy continued, “Cash and non-cash charitable contributions, along with other common “itemized deductions” (real estate & sales tax, mortgage interest) are aggregated on Schedule A. In the past your aggregated “itemized deductions” only needed to be above $6,350 or $12,700 to have a tax advantage over the standard deduction. Now in 2018 as you have always done in the past, when you prepare your own tax return, add up all of your “itemized deductions” and compare the total with the new higher applicable standard deduction.  On your tax return you get to deduct whichever is higher (standard deduction or “itemizing”) which will yield the best tax outcome.”

How to get involved

Even in a generous and involved community like Edmonds, nonprofits face challenges. The two top issues they face are finding long-term financial sustainability while balancing the demand for their services. In some cases, nonprofits face upwards of an 80% increase in demand for services year over year. And in many instances, nonprofits struggle to meet those demands.

The need for community support through volunteering and charitable donations becomes critical for nonprofits to continue to meet the goals of their mission and the needs in their community.

You likely already know several organizations whose mission or values align with yours – whether that lies in the arts, health and human services, animals, the environment, or education. Choosing which one to get involved with can seem overwhelming when they all do such important work.

A smart first step before deciding where to invest your time and money is to research a nonprofit on a site like GuideStar or Charity Navigator.

There you can find information to make certain a nonprofit is in good standing with the IRS. You can also determine how they spend the money they raise and how they report and track outcomes.

Once you’ve chosen a cause and organization to invest in, it’s just a matter of reaching out to see how you can help.

Around town there will be several giving trees set up where you can select a tag for a needed gift and then bring it back to the tree. Walnut Street Coffee, Revelations Yogurt, and Windermere are planning on having giving trees to support various needs in our community.

Another volunteer opportunity is with the annual Toy Shop at Edmonds United Methodist. Dozens of volunteers come together to create a place where low income families can shop for the holidays. See their link above to get involved!

You can also create your own meaningful ways of giving. Charities have to balance fundraising with day-to-day operations so having someone else offer to run a giving campaign or fundraising drive is a tremendous help.

However, you should always talk to a nonprofit before deciding to launch a fundraising drive or other campaign. They can tell you exactly how best you can help their efforts!

No matter how you choose to, making an end of year contribution, either through time or money, to your favorite nonprofit is a great way to spread the joy and make a difference in Edmonds this season!

By Kelsey Foster

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