Tithe your tax!©

As of this Monday, the first of millions of Americans will have received a little boost in their bank account in the form of an economic stimulus check, designed by the government to help boost the flagging economy with an extra helping of late spring consumer spending.

Regardless of whether you agree with the concept behind the $168 billion package—or whether you think it will work—one cannot deny that receiving between $300­­-$1200 per family (plus $300 extra for every dependent) might still manage to give you a small and pleasant opportunity to think about what you want to do with the money.

For weeks, we’ve been reading in the media on the merits of whether you should save or you should spend. After all, overspending is sort of what got us here in the first place, some argue, while others say that saving or hoarding your check will only exacerbate the economic slowdown.

In the midst of this debate, retailers have been gunning to capitalize on this potential boon. Last week we read in The Denver Post that King Soopers’ and Sears’ parent company, Kroger, is offering discounts and freebies (throwing in as much as an additional $60 of free groceries) to shoppers who exchange their rebate checks for gift cards. And other big box retailers like Home Depot and Wal-Mart are launching huge advertising campaigns to lure customers into spending the extra cash with them.

Yet a recent poll by The Associated Press indicated only 19 percent of the people they surveyed nationally said they planned to go out and spend the money. Additionally, 45 percent said they’d use it to pay bills and 32 percent said they would save it. Four percent said they would give it to charity.

We were wondering how this lines up in Colorado. What will you do with the money? Do you know? Do you plan on spending, paying debt or saving? If you’re unsure of which route is best for you (and the country!), we really encourage you to consider being a part of that 4 percent and donating at least a portion of your check to a favorite charity—or even better, perhaps a nonprofit that you have never had the money to give to before. Just imagine: if of the 130 million people receiving checks, a third of us tithed our taxes (roughly 10% of the standard $600 rebate, or $60 a person) what kind of impact that could make!!!

After all, like retailers, nonprofits are slowly feeling the brunt of the economic slowdown, too. According to a new report in the Philanthropy Journal this month, revenue growth among nonprofits has slowed and donor numbers are on the decline. The Journal also identified that nonprofit fundraising growth has slowed in recent months, according to the annual State of Fundraising Survey by the Association of Fundraising Professionals. The economy was overwhelmingly cited as the top fundraising challenge for charities in 2007.

We asked a few of our local clients what a small donation might mean. For Clinica Tepeyac, a healthcare clinic serving uninsured Latinos, a small donation could help one more family or child who can’t access affordable medical care.

“A small contribution often nets a big result for Clinica Tepeyac,” explains development director Denise Delgado. “Whether it’s a woman receiving a mammogram for the first time or a prenatal patient seeing her first ultrasound, each small contribution means that one more person in this community has a chance to be healthy.”

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1 Response to Tithe your tax!©

  1. Dave says:

    I find the idea of a tithe in regards to fundraising very intriguing. I’m currently interning at Ashoka in their Citizen Base Initiative, the basic premise being that building a wide base of support made up of participant/owner citizens is more sustainable than the historical model of grant and foundation funding, particularly at the grassroot level. A major idea behind the philosophy is that if everyone involved is giving just a small percentage, be it in time or money, that investment creates ongoing engagement and dedication.

    So, I think their is great potential in viewing all of your constituents as being members of a community that sacrifice as a sign of their devotion. I also like the idea because it means that all can give and participate, a tithe is a consistent, equal requirement for all, rich and poor, old and young. It says, however you are, give a percentage of yourself.

    I also find the concept intriguing because I am a member of a Church that strictly follows the principle of tithing, 10% of your income, and the organization as a whole is in extremely good health financially, even to the point that some outsiders assume there must be something shady going on, but the simple answer is a wide base of support that includes every member of the community being active participants in time and money.

    At Ashoka I see this happening in the development of what they call the Ashoka Support Network in which individuals pledge to sacrifice for three years and also have to agree to participate and be active in the community. I think the price point they use is genuinely a sacrifice so it challenges people to commit with their heart and mind. It has now been so successful that projections indicate that this wide network of support will be able to cover Ashoka’s main expense, living stipends for the Fellows they elect. Such a different model for financial sustainability than the traditional mindset in the nonprofit sector.

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