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Personal Finance
Danielle Howard
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
Danielle Howard

We are blessed to live in a community that digs deep to support nonprofit organizations and those in need. Up and down the valley, especially during the giving season, you have found causes that speak to you and opened up your hearts and wallets.

Tamara Tormohlen, the executive director at the Aspen Community Foundation, sees the trend in giving up this year as people adjust to the “new normal.” With mostly cash donations, they also see occasional contributions of stock. Understanding the nonprofit landscape, ACF serves as a resource to connect nonprofits to donors and the community.

Will the culture of giving shift with possible tax law changes around the corner? Tamara feels that altruism will trump tax deductions, but the conversations abound.

Nonprofit organizations have been on Capitol Hill in recent weeks to share their concerns about limiting the deductions of charitable gifts. The two most discussed options are capping the charitable deduction at 28 percent of income for couples making more than $250,000 and individuals earning more than $200,000; or setting a dollar limit on all personal deductions (including mortgage interest, child tax credits, local and state taxes and charitable donations). The main lament is that any change to charitable deductions will hurt Americans dependent on charities for vital services, and cut funding for arts, humanities and environmental concerns. Is the deduction a loophole or a lifeline? Check out

With the uncertainty about “fiscal cliff” tax law changes, many people have been moving forward with their giving based on what they do know – it feels good.

We get to be part of something bigger than ourselves. Christ encourages, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Winston Churchill knew the benefits: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Givers worldwide, large and small, thrive on the nourishing sustenance for the soul that altruism provides.

With systematic giving, you have a plan and know what you are contributing on a monthly or annual basis. This is the bread and butter for nonprofits. They crave sustainability for their programs. With dependable cash flow in place, they can focus on their missions, not fundraising.

There is symptomatic giving. A need arises and you write a check or text a number on your phone. It is the immediate emotional appeal, and social media has played a huge part in increasing the amount of money raised.

We need both types of support. Tamara at ACF says people are still struggling with their capacity to give. Who to give to and how much? Can I really make a difference?

The best way to foster healthy giving habits is to know what you have, decide how much is enough for yourself and your family, then make intentional decisions on why, where, and how to bestow your gifts.

In this season of family gatherings, take the time to discuss benevolence as part of living a healthy financial life. What has it felt like to give of your time, talent or treasure? Check out Paul Anderson’s column in last week’s Times on the “Philanthropy of Spirit.” Do you want to create additional capacity with your financial resources or time? What needs to happen for you to do so? How can you deepen your experience in the joy of giving? Check out for ideas and encouragement.

While understanding tax implications as one piece of your generosity, allow your heart to have the final say. Take the time to dig into the questions so our nonprofits will not only survive, but thrive – no matter what happens in Washington on Dec. 31.

Danielle Howard is a Certified Financial Planner ™ practitioner and Financial Life Planner®. Her office is located at 23300 Two Rivers Road in Basalt. Visit her at or call 927-3909. E-mail her at

Advisory services offered through Lighthouse Financial LLC, a registered investment advisor. Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research Inc., a broker/dealer, member FINRA/SIPC. Cambridge and HFR are not affiliated.

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