April 30, 2020
April 2020 Newsletter
Rescuing At-Risk Charities

The CARES Act can boost your giving power

The coronavirus has been devastating for individuals, businesses, and communities the world over. And yet one shining light throughout the pandemic has been the outpouring of love and support for others. In cities like New York, London, Vancouver, Atlanta, and Los Angeles, people are expressing their thanks to first responders—nurses, doctors and other health care workers who are helping to fight the coronavirus outbreak—by cheering, clapping, and banging pots and pans. Quarantined musicians and singers are serenading their neighbors from their windows and balconies. Stuck-at-home crafters have dusted off their sewing machines and made millions of masks for first responders, the military, and their neighbors in need.

If you’re looking for ways that you, too, can help during the crisis, the recently signed CARES Act offers some important incentives that make it easier than ever to support charitable organizations—many of which are at risk in the face of the pandemic.

In early April, Charity Navigator and Reuters conducted a joint study to understand how the coronavirus and the global economic shutdown are impacting non-profit organizations. The results paint a poor picture. According to the study, 74.6% of the survey participants have had to cancel fundraising events, 83% said their organizations are suffering financially, and 64% have had to make cuts to critical programs. And this is all happening at a time when many of these organizations—at least 50%—have seen an increase in demand for their programs and services in the wake of stay-at-home orders and lost jobs.

Sadly, despite an urgent appeal from more than 100 nonprofits to urge Congress to include relief for charitable organizations in the CARES Act, these important charities were completely omitted from the final stimulus package. Now more than ever, these organizations must rely on the help of donations from individuals. On a brighter note, the CARES Act does include a number important provisions designed to promote charitable contributions (a move that I see as a clear nod from Congress that charitable organizations are essential services that should be supported—that’s a good thing!). Here are three ways the CARES Act can help you stretch your charitable dollars to support the causes that matter most to you:

  1. You can deduct an additional $300 for cash donations.
    If you’re planning to take the standard deduction on your 2020 taxes, the CARES Act allows for an additional $300 deduction (per person) for cash donations to charitable organizations.

  2. You can offset up to 100% of your taxable income.
    If you are planning to itemize your deductions on your 2020 taxes, the pre-existing limit of 60% of Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) has been raised to 100% for charitable donations.

  3. Corporations can offset up to 25% of income.
    Under the current tax law, corporate entities were limited to 10% when offsetting income for charitable donations. Under the CARES Act, that limit has been raised to 25%.

While the CARES Act stopped short of offering nonprofits the funds needed to ensure continued operations, these important tax incentives are designed to encourage giving by individual donors. Note that there is one caveat: the amended rules do not apply to private foundations or Donor Advised Funds (DAFs). (To learn how you can use a DAF to boost your giving power, read my blog post, Boost the Impact of Charitable Giving.)

Perhaps the easiest place to start is to donate your stimulus check to a needy cause. The hashtag #ShareMyCheck has been trending on Twitter from the moment the much-touted relief checks began landing in bank accounts. From at-risk charities to frontline workers and undocumented workers, #ShareMyCheck highlights the organizations and people who need help today. 

Clapping, singing, and expressing thanks to the people that are making a difference during the pandemic is heartwarming, but for those of us who are committed to giving purposefully—and who have wealth to share—taking advantage of the CARES Act to provide tangible financial support to at-risk charities sends an even louder message: we care, and we are here to make a difference.

Please reach out to our team if you need help creating your charitable mission and putting it into action. Our goal is to help you create a gifting strategy that enables real change in the world—whatever your vision.

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