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Charitable season gets kick-start on Tuesday

November 26, 2018

HUNTINGTON — Anne Frank, the world-famous German-born diarist and World War II Holocaust victim, once wrote, “No one has ever become poor by giving.” Her quote reminds us that giving to others is really a gift to ourselves.

“Giving Tuesday” is celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving in the United States, and like the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving.

Entering its seventh year, #GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. Since its inaugural year in 2012, #GivingTuesday has become a movement that celebrates and supports giving and philanthropy.

Jaye Toler, director of development at the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Huntington, Inc., says the #GivingTuesday campaign has meant more donations during the holiday season.

“We see a general boost in philanthropy during the holiday season,” she said. “Giving Tuesday sort of serves like the kickoff for that. Everyone has celebrated with family. They’ve shopped till they dropped. And now it’s time to think about those less fortunate.”

Toler says with Ronald McDonald House, there’s an opportunity to help people facing their worst nightmare.

“I think we can all agree that a child facing a life-or-death diagnosis is pretty much the worst place you can be,” Toler said. “I think our mission resonates with people because either they - or a family member - has needed Ronald McDonald House ... or they hope they never do.”

Toler says that with the holiday season people feel especially inclined to make sure the sick kids staying at Ronald McDonald House in Huntington have holiday gifts, toys, cookies and needed items.

“The fact that Giving Tuesday uses an online/social media platform makes it so accessible to everyone, but especially to the younger generations,” she said. “So we see millennials who maybe wouldn’t otherwise support us, making donations that day.”

And it’s easy to donate online at https://rmhchuntington.org/donate.

Harmony House in Huntington is also asking folks to give online at www.harmonyhousewv.com.

Also, Facebook and PayPal will match a total of $7 million in donations for #GivingTuesday charities this year.

Donors should also know there are new tax changes for charitable donations this year.

Approximately 21 million taxpayers will stop taking charitable deductions under the new tax law. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will shrink the number of households claiming an itemized deduction for their gifts to nonprofits from about 37 million to about 16 million in 2018, according to new Tax Policy Center estimates.

Under the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, that threshold is tougher to clear. Although the deduction for donations is unchanged, taxpayers still need to itemize to claim it, and that’s a much higher bar with the nearly doubled standard deduction.

Under the legislation, an individual would need total itemized deductions to exceed $12,000, the bill’s new standard deduction for individual taxpayers, up from the current $6,350. Married couples would need deductions exceeding $24,000, up from a current $12,700.

“With a higher standard deduction, there will be less people who benefit from donating to charity,” said Eric Bronnenkant, a certified financial planner and CPA and the Head of Tax at online financial advisor Betterment.

According to IRS data, Americans donated upwards of $200 million to nonprofits last year.

A recent study by financial technology company SmartAsset measured how much people donate as a percentage of their net income, and the proportion of people in a given county who made charitable donations. In that study, Cabell County ranked among the most charitable in West Virginia at seventh out of 55 counties.

Reporter Taylor Stuck contributed to this story.

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