Mainewhile: A guide to end-of-year charitable giving

Mainewhile: A guide to end-of-year charitable giving
Written by Publishing Team

Maybe it’s the cold weather, maybe it’s the holiday spirit, maybe it’s the end of the year tax implications. Whatever the motive, this is the time of year when many of us give or increase our charitable giving.

want heather dr. Martin, a resident of Brunswick, know what’s on your mind; Email it to [email protected]

You probably have a few known favorites that you want to support each year, but for those who are new to the giving game or looking to expand their horizons, the question becomes, how do you know which charity to trust?

Some people hire professional donor advisors. If I’m ever in this league, I’ll be sure to take advantage of their expertise. However, back here actually is a version of the same experience for all of us, thanks to the Maine Community Foundation.

Founded in 1983 by Ed Kaelber, a formidable human being I had the honor to know, MCF funds work that strengthens Maine communities, supports the environment and provides scholarships—to name a few areas of giving. There are certainly some big donors who donate through their program and set up family foundations, but small donors like you are welcome too. For people like me, it takes the worry out because MCF experts do all the audits, research, and follow up on donations, and my money is pooled to make a bigger impact in the areas we care about most.

If you prefer to give your donations more directly or if there is a particular charity or cause that you love, there are many agencies that aim to research and evaluate various charities so you can give with confidence.

Among the wide range, two of the most famous are Charity Navigator and GiveWell. Both of these organizations provide excellent information. They show you how much each charity raises, what percentage of its operating budget is devoted to fundraising and what percentage goes into the program.

One small note: As someone who has spent most of her working life in small nonprofits, take the latter with a few grains of salt. No charity should throw lavish parties or offer runaway CEO pay, but there is something eternally frustrating about requiring people to work long hours for low pay while sitting in cold, white rooms with broken, used, or never useless technology. A charity wants to hire really smart and competent people and provide them with a working atmosphere that nurtures their creativity.

If you’re a donor who prefers more help over a handout approach, then consider the world of microfinance.

The most famous of these is undoubtedly Kiva, whose operating model is described by Forbes magazine as, “In essence, a bank funded by people who lend their money with only a little loss expectation, to 2.9 million people about to get a lot.” Through Kiva, you have the option to provide small loans (as many as you want) to people all over the world. The expectation is that the loans will be repaid, allowing you to redeem or donate again to someone else. It’s a really cool concept, and Kiva gets the highest rating from Charity Navigator too.

At the end of the day, one of the greatest benefits of giving is the actual process of deciding what to give. It shows who we are and what we value, and reinforces how lucky we are all to live in this beautiful place with each other as neighbours. I am grateful to all of you, may 2022 bring us so much joy and togetherness.


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