People who find themselves grateful for all that they have – and those who seek the tax deductions as well – open their hearts and their wallets more at the end of the year.
And now there’s a name for all of this do-gooding. It is #GivingTuesday. This is the second year for the national movement, which goes by its hashtag and this year has added a website. It was started last year by a group in New York and at least 8,000 nonprofits nationwide have joined the effort.
It’s aimed at riding the coattails of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the like only this isn’t about commercialism. This is about kindness. Neighbors helping neighbors. Mankind aiding strangers. Friends caring for friends.
And right here in Union County, the charitable-giving need remains great.
The United Way of Union County has extended its annual fund-raising campaign through Dec. 31. The organization is falling short of its $1 million goal and there are over 45 local programs that depend on United Way funding. Those programs provide service to more than 10,500 Union County residents.
The programs, among other things, help feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, nurture the sick, care for the children and provide comfort to seniors in need.
United Way officials hope that those who haven’t made a pledge to the 2013-14 campaign will do so. It is tax-deductible and, consider this: Just a $100 donation will provide twenty (20) home delivered meals for a senior citizen meals or ten (10) days of after-school programming for youth at the North Star Center.
“If five hundred (500) or so more residents we able to contribute just $100 each, the United Way would be so much closer to its fund-raising goal. More importantly, though, the United Way would be able to provide more support to programs that provide much needed services for Union County residents” said Shari Marsh, Executive Director. “Many of our funded Partner Agencies have experienced funding cuts from other resources but the needs have not diminished.”
But the United Way also is a leader in helping other nonprofit organizations better use and manage their resources and it is a leader in nonprofit trainings. With those functions in mind, the United Way offers guidance for charitable giving, even if the United Way is not the beneficiary of the donation.
Making a decision to give a donation to a nonprofit organization is often done more with the heart than it is with the head. Sad pictures of children or puppies can move even the wisest of people to write a check without any regard for the integrity of the organization asking for funds.
At the end of the year there are always multiple organizations that send mailers, make phone calls and host fundraising events in an effort to convince people to support their cause. Here are some suggestions that may help determine if a nonprofit group is conducting business appropriately.
Check organizations out through the Better Business Bureau – there is a process by which the BBB of Central Ohio rates nonprofit entities that covers accountability, governance, financial stability, etc.
Go to the nonprofit group’s website to see if they have posted their most recent audit, IRS Form 990 and their annual report.
Search the IRS website at www.irs.gov to verify the organization’s tax deductibility status. Several nonprofit groups have recently lost this status and have not had it re-instated.
If called for a donation, ask that information be sent to your home so that you can read the material before making a decision. Many nonprofits use “high cost” fundraisers who actually make more for their organization than the one they are supposed to be raising funds for.
Do not give money over the phone; it is just too risky these days.
Ask for overhead costs/percentage. If an organization’s overhead is over 35% - they are beyond what is typically deemed acceptable.
If an organization hedges on providing any financial information to a potential donor, it may signal the inability to produce such documents or unwillingness to share that type of information.
Watch out for look-alike organizations – so many of them will have a good story but nothing else of substance. The causes of cancer or aid to veterans seem to be popular ones for not-so-legitimate organizations to try to duplicate.
All legitimate, above board organizations are ones that practice transparency and are happy to respond to any requests for information.
The United Way of Union County is an organization that prides itself in its efficiency, accountability and transparency. For 55 years the organization has been working year-in and year-out to gain the trust of donors in order to full-fill its mission.
That mission statement has changed over the years but the current mission of the organization – “To bring neighbors and resources together to improve lives” – sums up the work of the organization since its inception.
To find out more about the United Way of Union County please visit www.unitedwayofunioncounty.org or call 937-644-8381 to have information sent to you. Those interested in supporting this year’s United Way campaign can donate through the website or send a contribution to: United Way of Union County, P O Box 145, Marysville Ohio.