Tax Deductions and Giving

A line from a Wall Street Journal Op-ed piece in December 26, 2017 caught my eye. The article entitled, “The Uncharitable Charities,” lamented the lobbying efforts of certain philanthropic entities. These groups were complaining about the impact of the new $24,000 standard deduction for joint filers. The reasoning goes that since fewer middle class Americans will need to itemize, charitable giving will go down.

Here is the sentence from the article.

“Americans don’t need a tax break to give to charities, which should be able to sell themselves on their merits.”

As one who itemizes and in fact will be making some charitable donations with an eye toward my tax bill in the next few days, I fully understand the issues. (Well, fully is a bit of an over reach, isn’t it? But saying I “kind of” understand the issues just does not have the same umph.)

Tax deductions are important. Tax deductions allow donors, especially wealthy donors, to give more than they otherwise could or would. Since I personally moved into a new tax bracket about a decade ago, I pay more attention than ever to deductions.

But regardless of what side you are on, those in churches and non-profits should never forget the sentiment expressed by the WSJ editorial board.

“Charities … should be able to sell themselves on their own merits.”

You have to make your case. If you cannot give a compelling reason for donors to give to your congregation or non-profit, your organization will ultimately fail. And it deserves to.

Get out a napkin or a scratch piece of paper and answer two questions.

Do you believe in what your organization is doing?

Why should someone give to your non-profit or church?

You have to make your case. Laws will come and go, but people will always give to good works that have a compelling vision.