Wednesday, May 25, 2022
May 25, 2022

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In Our View: Clark County is generous, pandemic or not

The Columbian
Published:

As the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated, Clark County is blessed with a charitable spirit.

A recent report in The Columbian detailed that the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington’s GiveMore24! fundraiser in September brought in $3.3 million for nonprofits in the region, and the organization distributed $26 million in 2020; the Walk & Knock campaign raised 88,600 pounds of food for the Clark County Food Bank; and the Vancouver-based M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust distributed $76 million to nonprofits last year.

As a spokesperson for the community foundation said: “We were impressed by the level of generosity that comes out of this community.”

Those words apply often, pandemic or not. And they are particularly relevant at this time of year, when our thoughts turn toward charitable giving.

Established organizations have developed trust over many years and provide assurance that donations are going to people in need, but donors often are targeted by scammers looking to line their own pockets — particularly at this time of year.

For example, the Vancouver Police Department put out a warning last week of a caller falsely saying he represents the department while asking for money. And the Internal Revenue Service offers a list of common techniques used by scammers representing fraudulent charities.

CharityNavigator.com recommends five steps for giving, beginning with identifying which causes are important to you and then researching potential charities. The website, which tracks the revenue and expenditures of major nonprofits, writes, “A charity’s ability to bring about long-lasting and meaningful change in the world is the key reason for their existence and for your donation.”

In addition to helping important causes and contributing to our community, there is another reason to consider donations this year. As The Hill explains: “Under a coronavirus relief law enacted in December 2020, taxpayers who claim the standard deduction can take a deduction for charitable contributions made in 2021. Single filers can deduct up to $300 in donations and married couples can deduct up to $600 on the 2021 tax returns that taxpayers will file early next year.”

About 90 percent of households take the standard deduction, and in typical years only those who itemize may take deductions for charitable giving.

IRS official Sunita Lough said: “The pandemic has created unique challenges for tax-exempt organizations, and we want to make sure people don’t overlook this special tax deduction that’s available this year.”

Those challenges have been particularly difficult for smaller, local nonprofits. Many of them rely on annual in-person events such as auctions or banquets to help raise operating funds, and many events have been canceled during the past 21 months. Share, which provides services and assistance for homeless people, is planning a gala in April — its first since the start of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the need has increased because of economic turmoil created by the pandemic.

Locally, nonprofit leaders say, our community has responded to that increased need. “We’re finding that citizens have really stepped up providing support for nonprofits this year,” Steve Moore of the Murdock Trust said. “They recognize that these organizations are challenged to provide their services. … People have really come together as communities.”

That ability to come together is a strength of Clark County, reflecting the spirit of our community.

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