Richmond Times-Dispatch

Make your voice heard on Giving Tuesday

- Marsha Mercer writes from Washington. Contact her at: marsha. © 2020, Marsha Mercer. All rights reserved.

The election is over. Let’s get to work building a better world. Americans made their voices heard in the election and can again on Giving Tuesday, Dec. 1, the annual day of global generosity after Thanksgivi­ng, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.

Giving Tuesday encourages us to take a breath after days of consuming to reflect on what’s important to us and act on our values.

Charitable giving is more important than ever during the pandemic and recession as nonprofits have suffered a decline in donations and loss of in-person fundraisin­g opportunit­ies.

Wildfires, hurricanes, floods and other natural disasters have wreaked havoc on our fellow citizens. Millions have lost their jobs, leading to higher levels of food insecurity. We’ve all seen the news footage of thousands of cars in line for food.

Nearly 26 million adults — 12% of all adults in the United States — said their household sometimes or often didn’t have enough to eat in the past seven days, the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey reported this month.

Among adults with children, the situation was worse — 16% said their household didn’t have enough to eat, compared with 9% of those without children at home.

A federal moratorium currently prevents landlords nationwide from evicting

renters, but the moratorium is set to expire Dec. 31. Food banks, shelters, health clinics and other social service organizati­ons are straining to meet increased demand and would welcome your help.

You don’t have to give cash. You can contribute your time, energy or talent to a cause or a neighbor. During the pandemic, many organizati­ons are seeking inperson or virtual volunteers. Check out volunteerm­atch. org to find opportunit­ies in your ZIP code.

Giving Tuesday isn’t political; it neither accepts nor distribute­s contributi­ons, and anyone can participat­e for free. The idea is for each person to choose a charity, donate on the charity’s website and publicize the choice on social media with the hashtag #GivingTues­day. Since Giving Tuesday started in 2012, it has spread to 220 countries worldwide.

Americans donated an estimated $511 million online on #GivingTues­day this past

year — up from $400 million in 2018.

If you have the wherewitha­l, there’s a new incentive to be generous. By doing good, you basically can reduce your taxable income in 2020.

In the past, only taxpayers who itemized deductions could take charitable contributi­ons off of their federal taxes. But the Coronaviru­s Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act allows taxpayers who don’t itemize to take a charitable deduction of up to $300 for cash contributi­ons to qualifying organizati­ons.

Qualifying groups are those that are “religious, charitable, educationa­l, scientific or literary in purpose,” the IRS says.

This past year, Americans gave almost $500 billion to charities, and about 69% of the total came from individual­s, according to Giving USA 2020, a report researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthro­py.

A recent survey found 40% of donors plan to give more to charity this year than last. The survey by Classy, an online gift processor, found that the pandemic was a big motivator for charitable giving, followed by the political climate and racial justice issues.

If your inbox, like mine, is overflowin­g with Giving Tuesday requests, deciding which nonprofit to support can be daunting.

A word of caution, though. Scammers also are after your money. Experts advise against clicking on the handy links that come in emails. Instead, research the organizati­ons, then directly go to their websites to give.

To make sure your donation goes to a legitimate charity, consult Charity Navigator, GuideStar (now Candid), the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance or Charity Watch, which monitor charities.

One person can make a difference. Dolly Parton has received well-deserved praise for her long history of charitable giving, especially her recent $1 million donation to help develop a coronaviru­s vaccine. Her Imaginatio­n Library initiative has given 147 million books to children since 1995. She started it as a tribute to her father, who couldn’t read.

Few can sing or be as generous as Dolly Parton, but each of us can make our voice heard on Giving Tuesday.

 ?? THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? In 2018, a person donated to a Salvation Army Red Kettle in Georgia. With the COVID-19 pandemic and the loss of in-person fundraisin­g opportunit­ies, charitable giving is more important than ever.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS In 2018, a person donated to a Salvation Army Red Kettle in Georgia. With the COVID-19 pandemic and the loss of in-person fundraisin­g opportunit­ies, charitable giving is more important than ever.
 ?? Mercer ?? Marsha
Mercer Marsha

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