BY JANET SEITZ
’Tis the season for giving, as many charities push year-end donations, which historically have provided donors with opportunities for both charitable gestures and tax deductions. Annual efforts such as #Giving Tuesday, the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving, help spotlight charitable causes and the spirit of giving.
Forefront, Illinois’ statewide association for nonprofits and grant-makers, rounded up more than two dozen area charities for the #ILGive for #GivingTuesday social media event held on Tuesday, Nov. 28.
“#ILGive is a great way to tell any organization’s story to a new, broader audience and boost their fundraising efforts,” said Sarah Tapscott, Forefront’s director of state partnerships. “#ILGive helps nonprofits reach new donors and provides the type of brand visibility that only a statewide effort can generate. To help organizations make the most of their efforts, the #ILGive platform allows organizations to custom-brand their profiles with pictures, video and specialized donation fields.”
“Girls on the Run participates in #ILGive as part of our end-of-year giving strategy,” said Jennifer Sublett, the organization’s executive director. “Donors are generous at this time of year and also factor year-end gifts into their tax plans. We have been focusing our fundraising efforts on more gifts from individuals, so #ILGive is a great method of outreach to connect with donors and potential volunteers.”
Allaina Blackwell, development and communications coordinator for Ronald McDonald House of Central Illinois, reported that, “#ILGive is a great way for us to connect with our local community here in Illinois and to be able to thank and acknowledge the support from so many of our friends right here. It works in tandem with the other fundraising efforts we make throughout the year, allowing us to focus on our folks here at home during the course of this campaign.”
Tapscott said although #ILGive is primarily a social media campaign, “we know that each year a larger and larger percentage of donations are made online.” #ILGive has its own Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages and a tagboard on ilgive.com that tracks and shares the posts of participants. Paid advertising on Facebook, Instagram and Google Adwords helps boost the campaign’s reach.
“In some parts of the state, we have partnered with local foundations to support additional print ads and billboards. We are always looking for new partnerships that support the nonprofit community,” said Tapscott.
While #ILGive is a 24-hour campaign and its media efforts, matching grants and prizes are available only for that day, donors can still find the organizations involved for 30 days and donate. Last year’s #ILGive campaign created over five million impressions on social media across the state and had nearly 60,000 visitors to the website.
However, the end-of-year donations may be impacted by tax reform. Understanding the new tax laws and implications on nonprofit giving is about as complicated as untangling a string of holiday lights. In terms of giving, Tapscott said, “we don’t have enough data yet to show how it has impacted giving. We won’t really know the full extent of the tax changes until 2019.”
Expectations are that giving may decrease, due to the Universal Charitable Deduction. The sector is expected to lose between $12 and $20 billion in charitable giving, according to Tapscott, due to the doubling of the standard deduction that was inserted in the Tax Reform Bill of 2017. It’s estimated this change will result in the percentage of taxpayers who itemize their taxes decreasing from 31 percent to 13 percent, eliminating an important giving incentive for 21 million Americans.
According to John Stremsterfer at the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln, “bunching” donations may help donors exceed the new standard deduction to contend with tax issues. The CFLL recommends a donor-advised fund may be the solution, by bunching multiple years’ worth of donations in one year. Gifts to CFLL are tax deductible for that year and the assets grow tax-free. Assets can then be divided to make yearly contributions to charities and nonprofits. This action is as simple as delaying a 2018 contribution to the beginning of 2019 and making another donation in December 2019.
For many area nonprofits, the result of the recent tax law changes is still under wraps. Although some of the tax incentives may be vanishing, the need to support area nonprofits isn’t going away.
Janet Seitz is a local communications professional, writer and artist. To share your story, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.