By Dana Trumbull
According to a press release from Giving USA, American individuals gave an estimated $287 billion in 2017 to charitable causes. The amount represents an increase of 5.0% over 2016. The outpouring of goodwill, however, seems to be slowing to a comparative trickle in 2018. Economists are pointing to new tax laws, which nearly doubled the standard deduction on 2018 federal income tax. With fewer taxpayers needing to itemize their deductions, the financial incentive of being able to deduct charitable contributions has taken a nosedive.
AJ area organizational leaders confirm that local funding dollars are following this national trend. Despite impressive rallies by community members to meet specific needs – such as $6,000 to repair the Food Bank’s refrigerated truck and $10,000 for new football helmets for Apache Junction School District – donations supporting day to day services have taken a dramatic hit.
JoElle Hurns, executive director at the Apache Junction Food Bank, reports that their funding is down an estimated 50% this year. The United Way of Pinal County (UWPC), which also relies on local funding for 100% of its operation and service dollars, reports that annual funding is 40% less than last year. Hurns and Bowler both commented that they have lost some of their corporate sponsors and grants this year as well, whether due to changing tax laws or shifting priorities.
Virtually all AJ/GC charities stress their appreciation for the value of volunteer hours, which remains strong (a benefit of active retirees, winter visitors, church groups and service organizations), allowing charities to keep administrative costs to a minimum; however, without monetary donations, programs cannot be sustained indefinitely at the level of need.
Residents are frequently reminded to “Buy Local.” It is just as important, though, to “Give Local.” Through your contributions, local children are fed, homeless veterans receive therapy and job assistance, Superstition trails and open spaces are maintained, and local students learn teamwork through sports and embrace music and other interests – all of which help to keep them in school.
Whatever your favored cause may be, you can support it locally and make a difference in the lives of your neighbors and the livability of your community.
If tax considerations are still of primary importance to you, Arizona has a unique program that allows you to make a donation to an eligible organization and receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit toward your Arizona income tax liability. It doesn’t actually reduce your taxes; but you can choose to apply your tax dollars to your favored cause.
This is true for School Tax Credits supporting extracurricular activities at all area schools. You can also apply tax credits to numerous qualifying organizations, including the Apache Junction Food Bank, the Boys & Girls Club of the East Valley, CAAFA, Empowerment Systems, Genesis Project, Hope Women’s Center, Salvation Army and more. Be sure to ask when you donate, as you will need a tax credit receipt. (https://azdor.gov/tax-credits)
One more thing: Please, be sure, when you drop your toys and canned goods into a collection box, that the recipient organization serves our local community. For example, food placed in the donation box at our new Fry’s Market goes to St. Mary’s Food Bank. St. Mary’s is a wonderful organization, BUT they do not serve the Apache Junction/Gold Canyon area.
Thank you for caring. Thank you for your efforts to GIVE LOCAL.
Photo above: $6,000 was raised locally to repair the AJ Food Bank’s refrigerated truck