Maximizing the Impact of Year End Charitable Giving

By Richard Clark, VP for External Relations, Johnson University

As we approach the close of 2016, my mind is drawn toward reflection and toward planning. What have my wife and I done over the last year that really made a difference? What can we do in the next year that will increase our impact? One way we know we make a difference is in the organizations we choose to support, including Johnson University. Maybe you are having similar thoughts. In addition to motives of generosity and a desire to make a kingdom difference, the government incentivizes giving as long as it is done by December 31 and according to certain rules. With that in mind, I thought it might be helpful to send you some tips on end of year giving.

Make Your Donation on Time and According to IRS Rules

Achieving the highest level of giving to a worthy cause at the lowest personal cost is a matter of good stewardship. The math works like this, just using round numbers: if you are in the 33% tax bracket, the actual cost to you of a fully deductible $100 donation is $67. Obviously, the lower your tax bracket, the more it costs you to make a donation but a donation at every level costs less to the donor when they take advantage of the tax deduction.

In order to do that, it is recommended that you give online or by check. Usually, if the check is postmarked by December 31, it will be deductible, but you should consult your tax adviser to be sure. The safest approach is to ensure it is received and processed by then. Of course, online donations are processed immediately and may be the easiest solution. Also keep in mind that noncash donations may be deductible as well as contributions from your IRA. If you turn 70 ½ or older by April 1 of next year you may be required to withdraw a minimum amount from your IRA. Up to $100,000 can be contributed to a charity with no tax liability. See IRS RMD Worksheet for more. Consult IRS document: “Eight Tips for Deducting Charitable Contributions” for a brief overview of charitable giving practices and “Deducting Charitable Contributions at a Glance” for a list of related IRS forms and documents.

Give Locally AND Globally but Give Carefully

There are more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the US. Many of them are small but may still be doing a great work. Starting with your local church, you might want to give to an organization through which you can personally observe lives being effected. Or you may choose an organization that reaches a wider audience. Either way, it is a good idea to do your homework. Make sure you know the organization’s mission and the level to which they are fulfilling it. Are they practicing biblical stewardship principles? Some of these organizations may be rated at the following sites (their absence does NOT automatically disqualify them, but you should ask more questions or seek more documents): http://www.charitynavigator.org/; http://www.guidestar.org/; http://www.give.org/; http://www.ecfa.org/.

Quick Tips

  • Know what you believe in and what you hope to accomplish through your donations
  • Research organizations to ensure tax status and alignment with your values
  • Give proactively (don’t always wait for an appeal)
  • Always document your donations
  • Consider building a long term relationship with those organizations that steward your donations exceptionally well

Johnson University End of Year Giving Options

Johnson’s mission is to educate students for Christian ministries and other strategic vocations framed by the Great Commission in order to extend the kingdom of God among all nations. For almost 125 years, we have had the rare privilege of seeing young men and women become world-class leaders who have extended the kingdom of God through local churches in the US, and mission outposts among previously unreached people groups, as well as through teaching, counseling, business, and other strategic professions.

Your story has likely included life-changing exchanges with Johnson alumni. I am reminded of Tyson Chastain’s story who recounts that his very conversion to Christ was occasioned by a Johnson alumnus in Indiana. His encouragement to consider Christian college and ministry was prompted by an exchange with a Johnson alumnus. He grew in his understanding of ministry and in discipleship while a student interacting with fellow students, faculty, and staff of Johnson. And when recovering from a traumatic experience on the mission field, Johnson gave his family respite and a place to heal and be restored to meaningful service.

Would you join us in one the following ways as we approach the end of the year?

  • Commit to praying for us. One of Ashley Johnson’s top three values was to pray as though everything depends upon prayer. We need your prayer support.
    • Pray for our students: for their safety while travelling over the holidays, for their success in school and internships.
    • Pray for faculty: for their safety, as well, for them to reach students not simply teach subjects
    • Pray for prospective students: for those whose missions and values fit with Johnson’s
    • Pray for partners: for those who will financially provide for the needs of our students, faculty, and staff
    • Click here for our online prayer commitment form
  • Commit to giving by December 31, 2016.

God bless you! Merry Christmas!

Posted: 12/14/2016 8:49:45 AM

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Opinions expressed are those of the contributors and do not necessarily represent those of Johnson University.