‘Tis the season for giving. In 2020, charities across the country received over $400 billion, with 75% of that number from individuals just like you and me; The balance came from corporations, of course that number is skewed due to money collected by corporations from individuals made up of their staff, and customers.
The need can be great and the challenge of where to give can be overwhelming. According to the IRS, the US has more than 1.5 million tax-exempt organizations, of which, 65% are registered as charities. With so much need – and so many choices – it can be difficult to know where to give. It is
important to support what you are most enthusiastic about, as well as somewhere your giving will make the most impact. Make sure to ask what percent of your contribution will go to your cause, as opposed to administrative costs and salaries to run the charity. Every nonprofit is required to file IRS form 990 every year. This form is public record and is a critical tool for researching non-profit charities and how they spend your money.
Don’t worry about asking for this form, as every legitimate charity will make it readily available. The 990 form itself states clearly “open to public inspection” on the very top. Some of what you find may surprise you.
Locally, some organizations have taken a more direct approach in helping those in need this holiday season.
Miracle By the Bay, a local non-profit organization, is again holding its annual Madeira Beach Mega toy drive. This event benefits families in need this holiday season. Find toy collection stations throughout the beach, including the Treasure Island and Madeira Beach Chamber of Commerce Welcome Center on Treasure Island.
In St. Petersburg, the Borkovic Law Group distributed three hundred turkeys to families this Thanksgiving and followed up with three hundred Christmas gift bags for local children in the community on Dec. 19 , which, coincidently, is Saint Nicholas Day, celebrated by many people from the former Yugoslavia, from where Managing Attorney Danko Borkovic hails.
Friends of Strays, Pinellas County’s oldest no-kill shelter, continues its award-winning Safer at Home program that started during the COVID pandemic. Safer At Home is a resource for Pinellas County residents facing financial hardships; it offers an alternative to surrendering their beloved pet to a shelter.
These are just a few of the everyday community leaders making huge impacts in the lives of those around them. But even with the smallest donation, you can improve the quality of life for someone. It feels really good to know you made a difference, and there could be some financial advantages for you as well. Check with your tax professional for specifics, of course.
Regardless of which charity you decide to support, be sure to make your donation by midnight Dec. 31 if you want it to count for tax year 2021, and thank you for making our world a better place.
Happy holidays and happy giving!