A potential overhaul of the federal tax code has many local nonprofit organizations concerned about a drop-off in donations.
Today is Giving Tuesday, a campaign focused on charitable giving to usher in the holiday season.
The holiday takes on additional urgency this year as tax breaks for some charitable donations are on the chopping block in Congress. The Tax Policy Center estimates that proposed changes to the tax code could add up to many billions less in donations from those who give to nonprofit groups.
One tiny nonprofit, Utah Kids Foundation, is run on a shoestring with very little cash, reliance on donations of goods, and a wholly-volunteer staff.
The organization helps families with special needs children to find access to products and services that insurance doesn’t cover. Director Syndi Knowlton says last year, they distributed the equivalent of $250,000 in medical supplies.
But long before any tax changes would take effect, the group is bracing for Jan. 1 when, Knowlton notes, insurance deductibles go to zero again.
“That’s when we have the most families looking for equipment and supplies because they can’t afford these huge deductibles,” she says.
Their goal is to raise $250. Knowlton says a benefactor will match that, and the funds are earmarked to maintain the equipment and get a storage unit for it.
On top of a possible reduction to tax breaks for charitable giving, Knowlton is concerned about individual year-to-date giving.
“We know that there have been huge tragedies in our country recently and people have generously given, but now there’s not as much funding for people to give, so we’re seeing a slowdown in those donations,” she said.
She worries that “at this point, if we don’t start picking up more donations, we may have to stop offering some of the services that we do.”
Among the offerings at Utah Kids Foundation is the Empty Stocking Fund that assists families who struggle with medical debt. In the first year, 80 families benefited, and organizers hope to double that this holiday season, relying on financial donations.
The group also collects school supplies every month of the year, to provide what they call “jackpacks” — back-to-school basics for children and families in need.