“God loves a cheerful giver.” –2 Corinthians 9:7
As I sat waiting at the dentist office last week, I did something to change the world.
I gave someone a goat.
I don’t know who they are. I don’t know where in the world they live. But I do know that because of me, a family somewhere will be getting a goat for Christmas this year.
They’ll go to classes first, of course. They’ll learn how to care for and feed their new goat. They’ll even learn how to breed her. They’ll also make a promise to give away their first baby goat to another family so that family can have a goat that gives them milk too. (Or that they can be paid to breed if they end up with a boy.)
I wonder what they will name her?
What would you name a goat?
I just asked my kids and they said, “Betsy.” That’s what they’d name their goat.
As a matter of fact, the reason I gave someone a goat is that’s the animal my kids chose on the way to school before I went to the dentist. I told them we were going to give to a charity called Heifer International and that they could pick the animal to give.
After sorting through a list like this:
• Water buffalo
• Fish fingerlings (yeah, I wondered about this one too)
• Flock of ducks
• Flock of chicks
• Flock of geese
They chose to give a goat. I was pleased because I LOVE goats. I can’t really explain it. I just do.
So there I sat, iPhone in hand, donating a goat.
But why stop there?
Getting My Dentist to Give a Goat
I was escorted back to my chair and in a few minutes the dentist came in. He asked, as everyone does, “How are you doing?”
I said, “I’m doing excellent. Ask me why?” He was obedient and asked me why.
“So there’s this charity,” I said, “called Heifer International. They give livestock to people in developing countries to help them overcome poverty. And then the families pledge to pass on livestock to others in their communities. I just gave someone a goat.”
“Oh, that sounds great,” he said. (I think he was humoring me.)
“So I’m wondering,” I continued, “if I challenged you to donate a goat too, would you do it? It’s just $120.”
“Uh, sure,” he said. “My wife loves goats.”
So just by asking a silly question like, “Hey will you donate a goat too?” I was able to do twice as much good in the world!
By the way, I did confirm his goat donation by messaging his wife. Check out the screenshot of her reply to the right!
Getting My Mom to Donate to Our School
Lest you think this is a random act of inviting people to donate, I should tell you I did the same thing to my mother last month. I asked her to donate $200 to our elementary school.
Here’s how this invitation went over…
I called my mom and asked, “Do you pay income tax in Arizona?”
“Do you know what tax credits are?” I asked.
“Yes. It means you give the money to charity instead of paying it in taxes. It’s a credit toward what you would owe in taxes,” she said.
“That’s right. So since you’re already paying taxes in Arizona, would you donate $200 to the school instead?”
“Did you donate to the school for tax credits?” she asked me.
“Yes. We do it every year. But we donate $400 because we’re married filing jointly and we can donate more.”
“Sure. Go ahead. Just put it on my Discover card.”
Piece of cake!
Just by asking, I increased the benefit to my school by 50% and saved my mom the pain of paying taxes.
I love asking for people to match my donations. It’s just really fun.
Tax Benefits of End of Year Giving
‘Tis the season for giving. Charitable giving makes me feel good. It means I’ve made a difference in the world. It also means I’ve outsmarted the government—or at least feel like I did—by redirecting my tax dollars toward causes that matter to me.
Charitable giving also means I lower my tax obligations. By giving to ordinary charities, I can deduct the amount I donate from my taxable income. By donating to charities that qualify for tax credits, I reduce the amount I owe in taxes and have the joy of knowing what the results of my donation will be.
If you’re like most people I know, you like giving gifts. You probably enjoy charitable giving too. But when it comes to giving your money to the government, I’d bet you are not a “cheerful giver”!
So here are a few steps you can take to get the most benefit out of end of year giving:
Step #1: Estimate Your Tax Liability
You might use Quicken, Quickbooks, talk to your accountant or just take a good look at your latest W-2. Look at how much you’ve made, deduct your expenses if you’re a business owner, and determine your taxable income. Have you paid enough in taxes so far this year to cover what you owe? If not, how much will you be writing a check for?
Step #2: Examine Your Options for Deductions or Tax Credits
If you need to reduce what you owe, explore your options. Search the internet for charities that match your goals when it comes to making the world a better place. In the word of author Jan Johnson, “What [cause] breaks your heart that also breaks God’s heart?”
Explore your options for getting tax credits for your donations by finding qualified charities. I searched the web for “tax credits Arizona” and found an 11 page list of qualified charities on the Department of Revenue website.
Step #3: Decide How to Lower Your Tax Liability
Based on what you owe and/or what you’ve paid, does it make sense to take action to lower your tax liability? Consider your options for charitable deductions and/or tax credits. Talk to your accountant first to make sure you’re eligible for all the benefits you hope to achieve.
Step #4: Make Your Donation by the End of the Year
Make your donations and file your receipts. Make sure they’re all accounted for on your final tax returns so you can reap all the benefits of your “cheerful giving.”
Step #5: Invite a Friend or Two to Join You
Have some fun! Make this a season of giving by asking one or more friends or family to donate along with you. But I warn you…inviting people to match your donations can be addictive!
‘Tis the season to be jolly. Have some fun giving to others…and changing the world for the better. After all, isn’t that what Christmas is really all about?
Tools to Support You
Have you ever used the Snipping Tool that comes with Microsoft Word? I use it to capture many of the pictures and logos I include in this newsletter. It’s simple to use and lets you highlight and capture anything you can see on your computer screen.
To find the Snipping Tool on your PC, search for Snipping Tool in the “Search programs and files” box and it will come right up! Be aware that many pictures online are copyright protected and using them without permission might get you into trouble.