lifestyle

Why do they give? Donors speak about what moves them and how they plan end-of-year donations

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By THALIA BEATY

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The real answer is the US tax code. No other country makes charitable donations so attractive and tax efficient. It's why Americans donate more than anyone else. It's basically a scam used by the rich to funnel their combined family incomes into a lower tax bracket. The trick is to set up a "foundation" staffed by your spouse or family members who distribute the "dontations" to other charities. The donation to your foundation is tax deductible even if your spouse/family salaries recoup 90% of the initial donation in salaries.

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When we give, it has little to do with taxes. We give based on what we have and where we feel it would do the most good.

Some years when the need was great, we give much more, like the tsunami in Indonesia where 200K people died. My hear physically hurt thinking about all those people.

We strive to give 50% outside our country and 50% inside. Our gifts outside are for known-to-work, life changing medicines and vaccines.

When $3/child can make them never need to worry about common childhood diseases again, it is worth it.

Inside our country, we fund research for causes that pull at our heart strings. Pediatric Brain Tumors and MS care and research. Disease doesn't care if you are poor or rich. No parent with a child hit by brain cancer doesn't need some support.

When picking organizations, I look for at least 90% of the money going directly to services/research, not salaries. Some of the largest institutions fail this. I got into trouble at one company that wanted every employee to give to a specific charity, but that charity was very inefficient. The following year after I'd been called into directory, senior director, VP, S-VP and finally the CEO's office for refusing, the charity was found to have been lying on their charity statements about where the money went and a number of leaders were charged with crimes. They never bothered me again. I showed them where I was giving my money and it was more than most employees gave. They did get desperate, asking me to donate $1 per paycheck. I'm stubborn that way.

For disasters, we give to organizations that have a history of getting the right aid where it is needed. Sadly, there is lots of waste with this, but that's the nature of disaster aid.

We will take the tax deductions, but that is last of our considerations.

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Giving adds life to the life span of the giver and the receiver. Happy giving.

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