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donations & the tax question

updated sat 13 feb 99


Janet H Walker on fri 12 feb 99

...I donate about $400 worth of pottery per year...

A quite lengthy discussion of this topic must be in the ClayArt archive
from last year sometime.

Here is one very clear way to think about it that might help you make a
decision about which things to donate to.

Organizations that are asking for donations can accept either time or
money. Lots of people give money and they get a receipt that they
could use to itemize deductions. Some people give time, for which
there is no "receipt". Lots of the people who volunteer time to such
organizations end up folding flyers or doing various other thankless
tasks. Artists are in the position of being able to give time that ends
up being worth money to the organization. So when you donate a piece of
pottery, you could think of it as giving an hour's time to the charity.
But if they get money for the object by auctioning it or whatever, then
your time has been turned into cash. If you are good, the cash they can
get for your work will be worth more to them then an hour of your time
spent licking stamps. And they'll get more money than you could have
afforded to donate to them directly.

As a business, you don't get to deduct anything more than the deductions
you have already taken for the costs involved in making the thing. But
as a person, you get the satisfaction of knowing that your time donation
was leveraged into money for the organization.

I know someone who is an ardent supporter of a charity. She has no money
to give. Instead, she gives time to the organization by directing an art
class. The people attending the class give money to the organization.
The artist thereby raises several thousand dollars for her charity. It is
really "her" donation although the actual cash comes from her loyal students.

What a wonderful way to give back to your community.
Jan Walker
Cambridge MA USA