Recently I spent the morning chasing down Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits needed before year-end 2019 with approximately 99 other financial professionals identified as procrastinators.

During the day I continued to think about the speaker’s points and compare them to what I have observed in my life and during my time at FiftyForward.

Over the past ten years, the organization has received donations from individuals, foundations, and corporations ranging from six dollars to six figures.

Although I don’t know the motivation for each donation, I am aware of the impetus for many of the gifts. Donors were motivated by a desire to do good, share their resources with others, make a difference or support their passion. The benefits of tax laws did not guide their donation decisions.

The training seminar centered around why individuals give to nonprofits.  The presenter led the group through a review of the newest tax law and how it would encourage taxpayers in the top 10% income bracket to give generously in 2019 in order to secure a tax break.  Also discussed were taxpayers in the middle-income bracket and why givers in this category could be expected to batch their gifts and donate only once every 2-3 years most likely skipping over 2019. Taxpayers in the lower-income bracket were identified as having a very low probability of making charitable donations in any year.

I dutifully took notes and nodded along with the others in attendance, thanked the presenters when the training seminar concluded and made sure my name was included on the CPE sign-in sheet.

All of this made me think about what has motivated me to give back. I saw the desire to be generous demonstrated many times by my mother. Even now when I replay memories in my mind, I most often recall Mother in the kitchen. She was a cook of some renown in my hometown of Waynesboro, Tennessee, and was generous with her time and talent. A session of all-day cooking would create an occasion to gather family and friends around our dining room table for good food and good fellowship and a respite from tough times in a rural community. To sustain families who had lost a loved one homemade pimento cheese was prepared, layered an inch thick onto sandwich bread trimmed of its crust. Each sandwich was wrapped neatly in waxed paper. Bite-sized biscuits would be cut with a snuff can and stuffed with wild game meat prepared by my Mom. It was so tender it would melt in your mouth. My Dad then delivered these lovingly prepared goods to folks in our county who were in need. This was volunteerism at its finest for all the right reasons.

As calendar 2019 draws to a close, tax professionals purport that taxpayers will make donations driven by a goal to minimize tax liability.  Doesn’t that sound like a bunch of accountants?  I think the numbers will tell a different story.

My bet is that the desire to be generous will continue to be much more significant than legislation and donors will be inspired to maximize impact to those who are in need.  A true season of caring will be evidenced during the final two months of this year as many of us will be driven to give to causes we care about and hopefully it will be to support the booming adult population now needing services, programs and resources.

Submitted by Teresa McDaniel
FiftyForward, Associate Executive Director Finance and IT