If you are stuck at home, you probably aren’t going to your place of worship or the theater or the museum or even the library. These are just a few of the organizations and institutions that make society an enjoyable place for most citizens. They also are able to function largely due to donations from people like you who frequent these places. When you stuck at home and not going, these organizations may move backward in your line of priorities. Out of sight, out of mind, so they say. However, now may be the most important time for you to be giving to charitable causes, especially to those who feed or otherwise help the needy among us either directly or indirectly.
Why am I as a Certified Financial Planner® advocating that you give away even more of your money, especially now when money may be tight for people due to layoffs or other hardships? Because it is good for you personally and good for society as a whole to help to ensure that these charitable institutions that do good works are able to continue on. For instance, if your local library is closed, that means your favorite local librarian may be collecting unemployment. Now many libraries are offering pickup service wherein you can reserve a book and you can go to the lobby (or to the front door) and pick it up. Maybe now your favorite local librarian has been rehired to facilitate the to-go service. If you have continued to give to your library, then you are partially responsible for that librarian being rehired. If your library donations have lapsed, no better time than now to start it up again so that another librarian might be able to be rehired. You would be doing your small part to put our society back together again.
Another reason charitable giving has perhaps suffered is the expansion of the Personal Exemption in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. The much greater Personal Exemption means that fewer people itemize their deductions or even file a Schedule A because their total Schedule A deductions don’t add up to as much as the Personal Exemption. While this is a disincentive to give, it is not why we should give to our favorite charities. We give because we want to and because society is better because of it. Don’t let a change in tax policy deter you from the goals you have that are part of your charitable giving.
Now more than ever it is time to continue or even increase your charitable giving. Keep it local if you like – the church, library, museum or food bank in your local town. Charities such as these likely don’t have huge overhead expense so most if not all of your donation goes to the intended target. We all need to take extra care to make sure our society continues to function and your continued charitable giving is an important part of that process. Don’t stop, and even step it up during this time of crisis!