The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

December 10, 2012

Nation’s looming ‘fiscal cliff’ could hurt charities

Enid News & Eagle

ENID, Okla. — You’ve heard the horrors of the “fiscal cliff.”

The Pew Center on the States released an executive summary on the fiscal cliff’s impact. The findings weren’t surprising:

• Stabilizing the national debt will help states in the long term.

• States only have a limited capacity to handle further fiscal and economic pressures.

• All of the federal uncertainly complicates the ability for states to plan, a point echoed recently by Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin.

Beyond the states, what does the fiscal cliff specifically mean for nonprofit organizations? And will Congress take the charitable giving incentive that supports the work of all charitable nonprofits?

Rush Limbaugh said charity is willingly given from the heart. Locally, the Enid Community Foundation has benefited from some large charitable gifts.

According to the Oklahoma Alliance of Nonprofits, the fiscal cliff poses real danger, and immediate action must be taken to influence the outcome. The alliance serves the sector through group-buying discounts, networking and by providing a community and legislative voice.

The alliance is urging advocates to tell Washington to support nonprofits by opposing arbitrary cuts and protecting charitable giving.

According to The Associated Press, The Charitable Giving Coalition is afraid benevolent donations will suffer if they aren’t tax deductible anymore. Coalition members include the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, the American Red Cross and the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Reducing or capping itemized deduction values for contributions will hurt charities and their needy recipients. How much?

“All charities will lose revenue, but I expect that educational and health organizations will be hit the hardest, while religious and social-service organizations will be affected the least, as their donor base is skewed toward lower-income households who are less likely to enjoy tax credits to begin with,” Huseyin Yildirim, associate professor of economics at Duke University, told the Washington Times.

The Christian Science Monitor posed the question, “Will the fiscal cliff hurt charities the most?”

Unfortunately, that may be the case. Raising revenue without discouraging giving is a tricky equation added to an already complicated economic situation.