Doing Good: Our Guide to Giving Back
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1 out of 4 Hawaii donors say that half of their annual giving is planned, while the other half is spontaneous.
Writing It Off
“Charitable giving during life may result in income tax benefits and charitable giving at death may result in estate tax benefits,” says Judy Lee, a trusts and estates attorney with Goodsill Anderson Quinn & Stifel. Her advice? When you make a donation—whether monetary or goods—make sure to document it, including donation receipts with the nonprofit’s name, the date the donation was made and the amount, or a list of goods donated.
1. Make sure you can prove your donation is to a qualified nonprofit. Also, certain donations to 501 (c) 4s, such as the ACLU of Hawaii, are not tax-deductible.
2. Make sure donated goods are in good condition. If it’s junk, you can’t write it off.
3. Itemize. Make sure your total deductions are greater than the standard deduction when you do your taxes. If not, stick with the standard deduction.
The Family that Gives Together
For a lot of families, it’s never too early to start giving. “Families are finding that making giving decisions together—how to share their time, talent and treasure—is one of the best ways to learn many of life’s skills,” says Lorraine Tamaribuchi, the director of the Hawaii Community Foundation’s family philanthropy program.
Whether it’s cleaning a beach as a family or buying a toy for Toys for Tots, giving back teaches children and teenagers the values of generosity, gratitude and empathy. The Community Foundation provides a variety of resources to foster family volunteerism. “We usually start with what is important to the family, their values and interests, and how to engage each member of the family,” says Tamaribuchi.
Here are examples of how to get children involved based on their ages.
If they’re 5 years old: By age 5, most children have empathy for others. They will most likely respond well to hands-on activities, such as helping serve meals to needy families, or gathering toys to donate to other children.
If they’re 10 years old: “Ten year olds understand the concept of helping others and sharing,” says Tamaribuchi. You can have them organize a family outing outdoors to clean streams or pick up trash along the beach.
If they’re 15 years old: Teenagers usually enjoy volunteering with friends or relatives they look up to, and doing activities on the weekends, says Tamaribuchi. It’s also a great time for them to start donating to a cause that matters to them, using money from a part-time job or from their allowance.
So You Want to be a Board Member?
Maybe you started out sending checks to your favorite nonprofit or volunteering on weekends. Serving on its board is a great way to deepen your commitment.
Francie Boland, the chair of the board of directors for the Hawaiian Humane Society, says she spends about 15 hours a month fulfilling board-related duties. In addition to attending regular board and committee meetings, Boland donates to the society, speaks at events, attends fundraisers and makes calls to donors. While she’s required to put in time and effort, she doesn’t mind it. “I love animals,” says Boland, whose day job is vice president of legal services for HMSA. “It’s a privilege to be on the board.”
When the Humane Society needs to fill a board vacancy, Boland says its members look at the board’s demographics and try to find a balanced representation, such as bringing on new members from different professional backgrounds, age groups or even places on the island. A familiarity with the organization is a must, too. “We want to attract people who are smart, passionate and committed,” says Boland.