The global pandemic has disrupted every aspect of business, life and society in 2020.
From manufacturing and retail to hospitality and the arts, healthcare and civil service to childcare and recreation, all have been challenged to adapt in order to maintain their essential function in society. And while the private sector has been challenged to modify their business strategies and federal and state governments have provided aid packages, there’s another sector that is charged with doing both.
In this unprecedented moment, nonprofits are experiencing a “perfect storm.” While demand for services is greater than ever, many have been forced to cancel the fundraising events that fund their work. Recommendations regarding social distancing have resulted in a decline in volunteer labor, and economic uncertainty means donations are down. The National Philanthropic Trust found that 25% of nonprofits in the U.S. have less than six months operating cash on hand. This is no small dilemma. Arkansas’ 8,174 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations make up 9.2% of the workforce, generate $17 billion in annual revenue and provide essential “safety net” services that society depends on.
But there is good news. The culture of philanthropy is still incredibly strong in NWA. Following the legacies of the Waltons, Walkers and Tysons, many NWA families and corporations provide generous, annual, philanthropic support to our region’s essential nonprofit programs.
I often describe my job as a “philanthropy concierge,” providing advice, custom giving options and charitable tax strategies. So during a global pandemic, what does this mean for those who want to help?
Give now. Give generously. Many people choose to make their donations at the end of the year, but nonprofits need your contributions now more than ever. If you have the means, consider making an early or additional gift this year. Sustaining the nonprofits you care about will help them continue their important work.
Give flexibly. By not placing any earmarks or restrictions on your gift, you entrust the organization to direct those resources toward the greatest need. Nonprofits are innovating right now. Help them do so with flexible funding that allows maximum impact.
Give where you live. We’ve all heard the catchphrase “Shop Local.” When you give local you not only provide assistance to your neighbor, you contribute to the local economy as well.
Give smart. The CARES Act includes two charitable giving incentives — an above-the-line deduction of up to $300 for cash contributions made to charities (excluding donor-advised funds and supporting organizations) for taxpayers who do not itemize and, for those who itemize, an increased adjusted gross income (AGI) deduction limit, from 60% to 100% for cash contributions to charities (excluding donor-advised funds and supporting organizations) made in 2020. For corporations, the limit on deductions for contributions, ordinarily 10% of AGI, is elevated to 25% for 2020.
Give where it is needed most. The impact of the coronavirus is far-reaching, and our robust nonprofit sector is responding. Consider a gift to support the array of needs that the pandemic has brought to the forefront:
- Medical supplies including PPE, research and development of treatments and vaccines
- Food insecurity
- Economic insecurity
- Elder care
- Educational support and childcare
- Child and domestic abuse
- Mental health
While we truly are “in this together,” the reality is that everyone is affected differently. Many Arkansans are finding themselves on the receiving end of charity for the first time. Others who have the ability to give right now are seeking ways to help.
At a recent news conference, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Arkansas Community Foundation as the most trusted organization to “manage the traffic” between those in need and those that can help. Whichever camp you find yourself in, we have tools to help.
Jody Dilday is director of development for Arkansas Community Foundation, a public 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation that helps generous individuals improve their communities through smart charitable giving. The opinions expressed are those of the author.