“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
It is no exaggeration to say that everyone and everything has been impacted in some way by the ongoing pandemic. Whether socially, financially, physically, or emotionally, we are all living and working differently this year — and charitable organizations are no exception. Across the board, non-profits have been negatively impacted by the current situation, with many facing a “quadruple whammy” including:
1) As the pandemic maintains its grip globally, the demand for the services and support that many charities provide and the population-in-need have both grown tremendously.
2) Declines in donations. Economic uncertainty and personal factors, such as job losses may be making individuals hesitant to give. In addition, many of us are giving close to home through what is termed “indirect” or “person-to-person” giving, rather than to a registered charity. This might be through supporting local businesses that have been hard hit, taking out from restaurants when they were closed for in-person dining, or continuing to pay individuals, even when they were unable to render any services in return.
3) A drop, at least temporarily, in earned income. For example, a September 28 article in Nonprofit Quarterly states the YMCA has taken a $1.5 billion hit in revenue since March due to facility closures. Similarly, many cultural organizations, such as museums and performing arts, found themselves shut down for several months or even longer to revenue generating in-person visits or performances.
4) Lower public financial support. Organizations that depend on governmental financial support, through grants and other financial payments, may be feeling the pain of reduced assistance from that corner.
This year, non-profits need assistance more than ever before and depend upon a generous holiday season of giving. Typically, November and December account for up to a third of annual giving in the U.S., with the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving dubbed Giving Tuesday, a global movement encouraging people to help.
There are many ways to provide help, both financially and non-financially. Many individuals and families choose to support a cause they feel strongly about through personal involvement, although doing so may be challenging at this time. If you are able, volunteering lets you witness the impact of your actions directly, and it is also a way to demonstrate your commitment to give back to future generations. At Klingenstein Fields Advisors (KF Advisors), we strongly feel the commitment to give back to the community. One of the ways we have done so is by volunteering regularly at God’s Love We Deliver, helping to prepare and deliver meals to those who, due to serious illness, are unable to cook for themselves. We look forward to the time when the KF Advisors’ team is able to resume this fulfilling activity in-person.
Giving to a Cause Financially
If you choose to assist financially, here are some tips to make sure you make the most of your giving:
Make sure your organization is a registered charity. While most organizations are legitimate, double check to make sure it is designated as a 501(c) (3) organization. For an in-depth view of the entity’s stated mission and past financials, review its Form 990, which is publicly available. GuideStar.org contains information and efficiency ratings for “more than 1.8 million IRS-recognized organizations,” so chances are the organization you are interested in can be found there.
Align your contributions with your interests. It can be difficult to say no, particularly right now. But giving selectively to a cause or causes that you and your family feel strongly about can have two benefits. It provides a mission that your family can unite and rally around. In addition, by giving larger amounts to a smaller set of organizations, your contributions can have a measurable impact.
Consider how you want to give. There are many different ways to give, including directly, through a foundation, endowment or donor-advised fund or using a trust structure. The method you choose depends on personal factors, such as how much you want to give, how you want the funds to be used, whether you wish to give during your lifetime, and how long you want your giving to continue. Equally important, there are also tax and legal considerations that may affect your decision.
Whether and how to give is a deeply personal decision, for which there is no “right” answer. KF Advisors will work with you and your tax and legal advisors to develop an approach to giving and determine the most appropriate strategies for your situation.