Many years ago when I was in junior high school, my mother asked if I would volunteer to go door-to-door asking for donations for causes like the American Heart Association, the United Way and the March of Dimes. As a sometimes-obedient son, I agreed and went to neighbors’ houses, knocked on doors and asked for donations for these important causes. I counted on a few “regulars” to give me a few dollars. As for the others, I left them with a brochure explaining how important a gift of any size would be. I was always surprised when some people who either I knew or my parents knew would not chip in even a dollar or two for a worthwhile cause, especially when an eager young teenager was asking.
We do not do door-to-door solicitations anymore, but this experience instilled in me a great sense of charity and giving. Like most of us who support causes that are important to us, hunger, poverty, disease or the arts, we give because we can, and it helps others. Giving also helps make us feel good about ourselves.
So here I am, approaching the end of a tumultuous year, and I am knocking on your door asking for your help. This year is not like years’ past. I am asking that you support homelessness and poverty and give food to your local foodbank. These are causes that are most in need. However, as president of the Board of the Griffin, I would be remiss if I did not also ask for your donation to the Museum. While food to hungry persons will fill their immediate needs, donations to the Griffin Museum will enrich their lives long after their meals are digested.
We just celebrated a weekend of wonderful events including our coveted Focus Awards, lectures, interviews and our first ever charity auction of photographs. While the weekend was successful, will still need to make up for revenues we are losing because of Covid-related decreased admissions to the Griffin and the lack of rental income.
If each person on our mailing list of 5,000 gives $100 to the Griffin Museum, we can raise $500,000 for the arts. Wow!
There are many ways to give.
1. You can donate cash.
2. You can donate shares of appreciated stock or mutual funds and deduct the current value of the investment as a charitable contribution if you itemize. This way, you will avoid paying capital gains tax on the profits, plus, the charity will receive the full value of your investment.
3. If you’re 70½ or older, you can transfer up to $100,000 from a traditional IRA tax-free to Griffin. It will count as your required minimum distribution without being added to your adjusted gross income. Your charitable gift won’t be taxed, as it would be if you were to take a distribution and then donate the cash to charity. Plus, keeping your RMD out of your adjusted gross income could help keep your income below the threshold for being subject to the high-income surcharge for Medicare parts B and D, as well as hold down the percentage of your Social Security benefits that’s subject to taxes.
4. Or you can name a charity as the beneficiary of your IRA. This way, neither your heirs nor your estate will pay income taxes on the assets, and the charity will receive the full value.
The bottom line is to give, give, give. Make me feel like an eager young teenager again. Thanks.
Andrew D. Epstein
President of the Board
Griffin Museum of Photography, Inc.