December has traditionally been a time in which donations to nonprofits spike as people, motivated either by holiday generosity or tax breaks, give to their favorite charities. In 2012, a social media event known as Giving Tuesday was launched in an effort to amplify the giving.
The Arkansas Community Foundation is a statewide organization that helps connect donors with organizations or causes they want to support. Chief Program Officer Sarah Kinser said the foundation doesn’t do a big request for donations on Giving Tuesday, but they’ve recently added a tool to their website to help donors maximize their giving.
"If you are considering a year-end gift and thinking about where your dollars could make the most difference, the community foundation has just introduced a new on-line directory of nonprofit organizations in the state powered by a national organization called Candid that provides data on registered 501 C-3 non-profit organizations," Kinser said.
Kinser said the database is searchable by county and topic, so donors can find the organizations dealing with the issues they care about.
Christina Littlejohn, CEO of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, said the event is more helpful than donors might think.
"Sometimes people can go, 'Oh, my $25 doesn’t matter or my $50 doesn’t matter,' but it really, really does. It really adds up," Littlejohn said. "I think Giving Tuesday is about a day that you can say thank you to all those nonprofits in your community that you care about that are making a difference."
Kinser said grants often come with restrictions for nonprofits, but charitable gifts don’t have to.
"As you think about your year-end gift, we really want to encourage folks to give flexible dollars and to give unrestricted dollars that nonprofits can use both to provide services out in the community and to invest back into becoming stronger, better run organizations," Kinser said. "That's how non-profits will improve for the future and become more effective in carrying out their mission."
This year will be the first year for nonprofits to feel the impact of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which went to effect January 2018. Changes to the tax law raised the standard deduction from $12,000 to $24,000. Some experts speculate this could lead to fewer charitable donations.