Information and news about philanthropy

Charitable-Deductions
Despite Congress’ efforts in January to increase the tax savings for charitable donations, Obama’s newest proposal will lower it from the current 39.6% to 28%.  A cap on itemized deductions basically means that when someone makes a charitable donation, the amount that they can claim on their itemized tax deduction is now about 10.8% less than before. For example, say a person who earns about $450,000 a year makes a donation of $1000 to UNICEF. Originally, they would be able to write off $396 but with the change in charity deductions, can only write off $280.

This change, however, will only affect those in the top 35% tax bracket (those who make more than $335,000). For Obama, this is a major source of money that he would use to help pay for the $447 billion job plan he introduced a few years ago. It is also a way to make sure that the rich are paying a higher share of taxes and eliminating the loophole of writing-off thousands and thousands of dollars.

But what does this mean for nonprofits? And aside from them, what does the fact that this is even an issue mean about society and giving in general? To tackle the first question, Philanthropy.com referred to a study by economists John Bakija and Bradley Heim that concludes that for every 1% decrease in savings (in this case, about 10.8%), there is an equal 1% decrease in the amount given. They do, however, mention that there are many other factors that affect how much donors give and that this change will affect each charity in a different way.

The second question seems to be the elephant in the room. It is not naive to assume that people choose to give from the heart. Yes, we live in a country that allows those who donate to receive some sort of benefit for doing so, but at a time where our passions for a cause should be the driving cause of our actions and charity, why would receiving only 11% less on a donation make the wealthy hesitate when giving to a cause?

Perhaps the charted out reductions in total donations is frightening to some charities. They should still remain hopeful that there are those in the 35% tax bracket who will continue to donate at the rates they have previously, regardless of this new change in policy. Obama’s intent to bridge the income gap and require the wealthy to pay more taxes is understandable; but so is the fear of many nonprofit organizations.

– Deena Dulgerian

Source: The Chronicle of Philanthropy
Photo: Times Union

Jonathan Ross Red Nose Day
March 15 will mark the 25th anniversary of the charity organization Comic Relief’s Biannual Red Nose Day. The event, which began in the UK in 1988, is an all-day affair that showcases British comedians performing telethon-style with the ultimate goal of raising money for poverty reduction in Africa. Since the first event, the organization has raised 660 million pounds for the cause.

What now appears to the public as a well-rehearsed and professional telethon was once a much more amateur affair with the most earnest of the organizers and performers of Red Nose Day holding it together. British talk show host and comedian Jonathan Ross recalls one mix-up from the early years when Welsh comedian Griff Rhys Jones began a comedic bit with his trademark enthusiasm only to realize that he was supposed to be presenting a tragic event. Despite moments of confusion, the event was a wild success and continues to be an important national event to this day.

The organization does not simply raise money to be passed on to indiscriminate sources. Walking through the halls of a Comic Relief-assisted school in Accra, Ross was impressed by the real world impact that a little money collected from thousands of people can make. He recognized the importance of the school to the community in helping the children gain a solid education to escape poverty.  When faced with the reality of the effect that the charity money makes, it is obvious that the school is more than just a place to collect impressive donation statistics or take riveting photos for a catalog. It is an institution that means a great deal to the community.

Ross admits that the idea of using comedy to highlight tragedy, as in the staggering poverty in Africa, is a risky way to raise awareness. Regardless, the performers and the organization have built a large following in the early years that has only grown since then. At the least, Red Nose Day is a bright and cheery way to bring awareness to global poverty on the international stage.

Sean Morales

Source: The Guardian

Bazaar Stars
The Bazaar Stars Charity Night (BSCN) is the first charity auction party in China and also goes far in illustrating a new mode of charity in China, which integrates fashion, charity, celebrities and the media while doing fundraising in the form of auctions.

Many national celebrities, including famous singers, actors, entrepreneurs and artists, attend the auction party and bid on luxury items each year, the funds of which go to those in need. The media and merchandise brand names are also very supportive.

Over the last 10 years, BSCN has collected about $25 million, sponsored 13 charity organizations and supported people and families in need. Moreover, in 2007, this event was the only charity event awarded with National Charity Award in China.

As more and more celebrities join the event, BSCN has become the biggest and most influential, non-governmental charity event in China.

Mang Su, the executive publisher of Harper’s Bazaar, initiated the event in 2003 and organizes it every year. In fact, Su is a leader in Chinese fashion and one of the top philanthropists in China. Her idea, “Making Charity Fashion,” has, moreover, created a new approach to philanthropy.

Su explained that philanthropy is not about living frugally and saving money for others, but about creating a more valuable society as a whole. “I want to contribute to charity in an innovative and fashionable way,” Su said. “Just like pursuing fashion, such as a gorgeous hair style or a beautiful lipstick. Everyone asks, ‘have you given to charity?’”

The purpose of the BSCN event is to help people to understand the importance of advancing society while creating their fortunes. “Not everyone can help others at the cost of his (or her) career, but everyone has a kind heart,” Su stated. “I hope this event can encourage people to express their kindness while fighting for their career and dreams.”

Xinyu Zhao, an investor of Gold Palm Club, bought a Dior sweet smelling perfume for about $7,246.38. “I would never buy perfume for this amount normally, but this time it is for the charity. I feel very happy,” Zhao said.

Furthermore, Bingbing Li, a Chinese actress and singer, explained that the ten-year persistence of philanthropy is also a form of attitude.

At present, BSCN is not only an auction, but also includes in its bag of delights, an evening banquet with dancing, which make the event even more fashionable. “With the development of society, more rich people are emerging. They have their own lifestyle,” Su said. She considers charity activities an elegant lifestyle and exclusive entertainment for the wealthy.

As more and more fashionable activities are related to some form of charity, Su believes charity events similar to the BSCN can bring wealthy celebrities closer to the idea of charity and bring them a deeper understanding of it.

“Some day, behind the rich lifestyle, people will find that it’s only by offering their love and generosity that they can realize their true class,” Su said.

Compared to China’s past charity activities, which were low key and mainly held by private individuals, current charity activities, such as the BSCN, has allowed the rich and famous of the Chinese nation to personally get involved to give back some of their fortunes openly and freely. More and more Chinese philanthropists are emerging, thus representing a new class of Chinese citizens who are on the way to understanding the concept of sharing.

Liying Qian

Sources: Harper’s Bazaar, SINA, Trends, Women of China