December 31, 2012
NEW — 2 p.m. Dec. 31, 2012
The need is up nonprofit organizations, but as donors start to make out checks for year-end donations, local organizations sometimes struggle to stand out in a field crowded with requests for giving.
In King County, end-of-year charitable giving to nonprofit organizations is on the to-do list for many donors. The average person makes 24 percent of annual donations between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, according to research from the Center on Philanthropy.
Issaquah and the Puget Sound region maintain a long-held reputation for generosity to charitable causes. The key for nonprofit organizations to successfully solicit donations, local leaders said, is to highlight successes.
July 31, 2012
The long-gestating plan to build a human services campus in Issaquah is a step closer to reality, as organizers inch closer to selecting a site for the facility.
April 24, 2012
The Seattle Foundation is staging a day of charitable giving in King County — and people can donate to numerous Issaquah-based organizations and groups serving local residents.
The foundation’s GiveBIG fundraising is a daylong event May 2.
GiveBIG invites people to make donations to almost 1,000 nonprofit organizations, including the Issaquah Schools Foundation, Village Theatre, Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, Habitat for Humanity of East King County, Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, YWCA of Seattle-King-Snohomish and the Together Center.
Each donation made to the more than 1,300 nonprofit organizations profiled on The Seattle Foundation’s website between midnight and midnight receives a pro-rated portion of the matching funds, or “stretch,” pool. The amount of the “stretch” depends on the size of the stretch pool and how much is raised in total donations on GiveBIG day
Find a complete list of participating organizations and donation information at The Seattle Foundation’s website, www.seattlefoundation.org.
February 7, 2012
The Together Center in Redmond, which helps local residents, has received a grant of $35,420 from the Employees Community Fund of Boeing Puget Sound to support renovation of recently vacated space for use by nonprofit, direct-service agencies.
Previously, the center was the recipient of two $5,000 grants from the Microsoft Corp. and the Norman Archibald Charitable Foundation, while the Rotary Club of Redmond pitched in an additional $1,500.
December 20, 2011
What to know
If you make a donation to a charity this year, you may be able to take a deduction on your tax return. In order to help taxpayers interested in making charitable donations — and tax deductions — the Internal Revenue Service offers the following tips:
Make sure the organization qualifies — Charitable contributions must be made to qualified organizations to be deductible. Find a list of qualified organizations in IRS Publication 78, Cumulative List of Organizations, at www.irs.gov.
What you can deduct — You can deduct your cash contributions and the fair market value of most property you donate to a qualified organization, but special rules apply to several types of donated property, including clothing or household items, cars and boats.
When you receive something in return — If your contribution entitles you to receive merchandise, goods or services in return — such as admission to a charity banquet or sporting event — you can deduct only the amount exceeding the fair market value of the benefit received.
How to keep records — Keep records of any contribution you make, regardless of the amount. For any cash contribution, you must maintain a record of the contribution, such as a cancelled check, bank or credit card statement, payroll deduction record or a written statement from the charity containing the date and amount of the contribution and the name of the organization.
Handling pledges and payments — Only contributions actually made during the tax year qualify as deductible. For example, if you pledged $500 in September but paid the charity only $200 by Dec. 31, you can only deduct $200.
Many legitimate charities use telemarketing, direct mail, email and online ads to ask for contributions. Unfortunately, scam artists also use the same techniques to defraud donors. If someone asks for a donation, take time to learn about the charity:
Ask for the charity’s name, address, phone number and written information about its programs.
Ask whether the person contacting you is a professional fundraiser and how much of your contribution is meant for fundraising costs.
Check the history of the organization with the Washington Secretary of State’s Office at www.sos.wa.gov.
Potential donors should also know the warning signs of a scam:
Reject high-pressure pitches, and remember: It’s OK to hang up.
Be skeptical of a thank-you message for a pledge you do not remember making.; scam artists will lie to get your money.
Avoid giving cash donations.
Avoid charities offering to send a courier or overnight delivery service to collect money.
Avoid charities guaranteeing sweepstakes winnings in exchange for a contribution.
Avoid charities forming overnight, especially in the aftermath of natural disasters, or claim to be for police officers, veterans or firefighters.
Source: Federal Trade Commission
The year is almost over, and unending calls, email and mailers requesting donations pour in at the same pace as Christmas cards.
The need is up for local human services organizations and other nonprofit groups, but as the economy remains anemic, leaders at such organizations raised concerns about “compassion fatigue” — a drop-off in chartable donations due to overexposure to calls for aid.
Issaquah and, indeed, the entire Puget Sound region maintain a long-held reputation for generosity to charitable causes. However, compassion fatigue is acute, especially as local organizations assist more people amid the economic downturn and groups face the ever-present prospect of additional cuts as local and state governments trim spending.
“Where does the fatigue come from? I think it comes from the number of people asking in a noncoordinated fashion that are all trying different strategies,” said Jared Erlandson, public relations manager for United Way of King County.
Timing is another factor. The entreaties from nonprofit organizations come amid the holiday season, as people juggle commitments.
“Our experience is that people give at the end of the year,” Together Center Executive Director Pam Mauk said. “That’s when they think about it. That’s when they want to give.”
(The nonprofit Together Center, a human services campus in Redmond, serves clients from Issaquah and elsewhere on the Eastside.)
But the deluge from numerous nonprofit organizations can sometimes turn off potential donors.
“People are indeed swamped by the requests and probably aren’t appreciative of all the requests that they’re getting,” Mauk said.
Organizations also need to offer a compelling message to donate in order to cut through the clutter to reach potential donors.
“You can’t be saying the same thing every time,” Erlandson said. “If you’re always saying, ‘The sky is falling. Things are worse now than they’ve ever been. The need is greater.’ Those are the kind of catchphrases that, I think cause compassion fatigue.”
Still, the limping economy has created a greater need and especially a temporary need for people slow to rebound after job losses or other setbacks.
“We all know somebody who needs a hand right now and may not a month from now,” Erlandson said.
Though donations spike in the aftermath of major tragedies, such as the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina, giving is sometimes tougher for organizations addressing ongoing issues, such as homelessness and poverty.
“We know that people in a huge, epic disaster don’t even think twice. It’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, Katrina, where’s my checkbook?’” Erlandson said. “Those kinds of donations are over and above their normal giving.”
Claire Petersky, executive director of Sammamish-based Eastside Friends of Seniors, said showing potential donors how funding is used is important.
“Whether you are donating or whether you are volunteering, I think if you see a visible change in somebody else’s life, then you have a feeling that this isn’t like a never-ending pit of need,” she said.
The solution for Eastside Friends of Seniors is to send regular updates to donors about how donations assist the organization’s mission to aid local senior citizens. Petersky said a board member even joined the organization after reading about Eastside Friends of Seniors’ accomplishments in a message sent to donors and volunteers.
“I know I made a difference in that person’s life. I think that that gives a sense of accomplishment and helps overcome that sensation of being overwhelmed,” Petersky said.
(The organization changed names from Faith in Action to Eastside Friends of Seniors in late September.)
Contact between organizations and donors throughout the year is essential, too, leaders at local nonprofit groups said.
“If people see, here’s my 50 bucks, here’s my 100 bucks and they never hear back from you, they never see any result, they don’t know what that donation accomplished, it’s going to really compile for next year or later on this year when you go back to ask these people,” Erlandson said. “So, for us, a key is showing results.”
Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.
August 16, 2011
The airy apartment on the top floor at YWCA Family Village at Issaquah, a long-planned affordable housing complex, is a refuge for Lizzie Webb.
The longtime Issaquah resident relocated to the complex before anyone else, in late May, and created a sanctuary from domestic abuse in the cozy space.
June 23, 2011
NEW — 11:30 a.m. June 23, 2011
The Seattle Foundation is staging the biggest day of charitable giving in King County history Thursday — and people can donate to numerous Issaquah-based organizations and groups serving local residents.
The foundation’s GiveBIG fundraising effort continues until 11:59 p.m.
GiveBIG invites people to make donations to almost 1,000 nonprofit organizations, including the Issaquah Schools Foundation, Village Theatre, Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, Habitat for Humanity of East King County, The Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust and the Together Center.
The donations can then be stretched further using funds from a $500,000 “stretch pool” provided by The Seattle Foundation and GiveBIG supporters.
April 5, 2011
The push to select a location and raise dollars to build a long-planned human services campus in Issaquah — envisioned as a clearinghouse for employment assistance, food aid, health care and more — should start in earnest this spring and summer after years spent on discussions and studies.
Organizers plan to launch a fundraising campaign for the campus, identify anchor tenants and, most critically, select property or a building to house the facility.
The result could resemble the nonprofit Together Center, a similar campus in Redmond. In 2007, Issaquah leaders and the Together Center — then called the Family Resource Center — partnered to spearhead a feasibility study for a campus in Issaquah.
Together Center Executive Director Pam Mauk and John Rittenhouse, a former Issaquah councilman and a Together Center board member, presented the study to City Council members March 29.
“So, what does the study conclude?” Rittenhouse asked. “It concludes that a human services campus being sited in Issaquah is feasible. Under all scenarios that were studied by the consultants, a campus is doable in Issaquah.”
Plans for the campus hinge on the location, and whether organizers opt to build a campus or lease space in existing structures.
February 22, 2011
Together Center announces board of director changes
Barbara de Michele, of Issaquah, has been named chairwoman of the Together Center board of directors. She is the executive director of the Issaquah Community Network.
De Michelle takes over for longtime chairman John Spangenberg, of Kirkland, who has been named chair emeritus.
John Rittenhouse, a manager at Microsoft from Issaquah, is now vice chair.
Also joining the board of directors is Donna Batter, of Issaquah, a fundraising consultant.
Together Center is a nonprofit organization that helps the needy find food, shelter, medical and dental care, child care assistance, youth and family counseling, and more.
November 23, 2010
Cold campout raises awareness of homelessness
Even after spending more than an hour building her cardboard box house and sleeping with nothing but cardboard and a sleeping bag between her and the raw outside, Kristin Dietzel was ready to tackle the day’s challenges as a temporary homeless minor.
But, as the day wore on, Dietzel, an eighth-grade student at Beaver Lake Middle School, found herself growing tired. She had fasted for 24 hours, gone digging through Dumpsters for meals, walked door to door for a food drive and panhandled outside a grocery store in Issaquah, all on the cold, gray day of Nov. 13.
She and 23 other students learned about homelessness in a 24-hour activity called Box Out, held by the Faith United Methodist Church youth group. Director of Youth Ministries Robert Seybold started the program seven years ago, but this is the first year he has organized it in Issaquah.
For Seybold, homelessness is a personal issue. As a teenager growing up in Yakima, he was homeless on and off for three years.
“I just remember what it was like to have to cover myself up with cardboard boxes whenever it would be raining or snowing,” he said. “I would grab plastic bags from the grocery store to prevent them from getting wet.”