The NFL Draft is upon this month. NFL teams will carefully hand-pick college football standouts to join their rosters. The options are endless: bulldozing offensive linemen, polished quarterback, speedy wide receiver, etc. The teams will choose the player that best fits into their organizations.

Similarly, with Community Health Charities, YOU choose the causes YOU care about. Support children, women, veterans, or crisis response, and more. Or create your own unique cause with our Custom Cause tool.

Don’t fumble—the giving options are in your hands.

With a career of more than 25 years spanning tiny startups and Fortune 25 behemoths, I’ve seen the power of community involvement in unifying employees, workgroups, and even entire business lines.

 

Beyond the camaraderie and warm fuzzies people get from doing good, corporate volunteer events and workplace giving campaigns provide other hidden, difficult-to-measure value to a company–business gets done at workplace giving campaign events.

 

A lot of things can split up employees and business units, making people feel disconnected. Project teams competing for internal resources (technology, budget, etc.) may distance themselves from each other. The natural skepticism immediately following a big merger or during a cost-cutting consolidation, when people are uncertain of their role going forward, creates division. And simple focus on the day-to-day work have can get employees stuck in ruts that end up as missed opportunities for collaboration and innovation. A good workplace giving campaign can help overcome these divisions.

 

I saw this at Wells Fargo, where every year the campaign brought team members together, outside their normal day-to-day context. For many, it was the only time they got to reach across departments to talk about collaboration. I saw more than one idea sparked at a campaign function, which led to meetings and new collaborations between departments that had otherwise not been in contact with each other.

 

The campaign’s unifying effect also affects morale. It was a powerful lesson to watch Wells Fargo and Wachovia employees during a difficult merger period come together to common purpose of doing good in the community. Campaign events helped to break down growing barriers of distrust as employees from both sides collaborated and came to know each other as more than just company human resources.

 

My friend Rebecca Wang, a Corporate Social Responsibility thought leader with over 17 years community engagement experience at Cisco and Hewlett Packard, has seen a similar effect in engaging teams. She told me, “In my role leading our global employee giving and volunteering programs, I helped managers leverage my program’s tools and resources to meet their specific employee engagement and team-building goals.” She further noted that about two-thirds of HP/HPE employees said the company’s culture of community engagement played an important role in their decision to join the company. I saw similarly strong numbers in my role at Wells Fargo.

 

I think that many of today’s managers inherently have an idea that community involvement plays a role in employee morale and corporate reputation, but I doubt many truly understand the depths to which an employee giving campaign helps to unify employees and achieve business goals.

 

Have you found surprising ways in which your workplace campaign has unified your workforce or helped your business? You can tell me, and pick up tips from leading practitioners, at the Charities@Work conference in New York, June 28-29.

Peter Dudley is an author and nationally recognized expert in corporate social responsibility, marketing, and employee engagement. He’s worked the last 17 years in CSR running employee giving and volunteerism for Wells Fargo, where his workplace campaign was ranked #1 nine years in a row by United Way Worldwide. Before joining Wells Fargo, Peter held various roles in high tech startups, from Marketing Director to software development to community management.

Peter is honored to serve on the Community Health Charities national board of directors as well as the Charities@Work Corporate Advisory Council, which he chaired in 2015 and 2016. He has also served on and chaired United Way Worldwide’s Global Corporate Leadership Council.

Peter lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and is the proud father of both an Eagle Scout and a transgender daughter. 

This article was originally posted on SparkVision. 

We all have those moments where we feel like we’re taking crazy pills,  drowning in plain sight and out of control. These are moments where we’re experiencing the negative impact of stress.

By definition, “stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or threat. When you sense danger–whether real or imagined–the body’s defenses kick into high gear in a rapid, automatic process known as fight or flight reaction or the stress response.”

Given that April is National Stress Awareness Month, it seemed like the perfect time to touch on this heavy topic.

And, before we get too far, I must put out a disclaimer…Stress has a valid role in our lives. It’s one of our most human expressions when we process strain. There are times where stress can be the emotional trigger we need to get to higher ground. However, the stress I’m referring to in this article is the counter-productive kind. The kind that creates unnecessary burden because of the false emergency alarm that’s going off in our brain.

The majority of stress that I’ve personally experienced has been an inaccurate and inappropriate interpretation of someone else’s demands which triggered me into my fight or flight state. I used to be Rocky when it comes to stress. Fighting with and for the most important things that HAD to be done ASAP. You know that kind?

It wasn’t until I started an active mindfulness-based practice, set intentional boundaries and ignited regular self-care, that I was able to reclaim what elicited stress in my life and what was just part of being alive and getting my work done.

So enough about what stress is and how sh!tty it feels. Let’s talk about the best ways to de-stress and ignite self care. Let’s get off the stress-filled emotional roller coaster and instead go for a peaceful walk on the beach (or in the park, in the city, etc.)

Every single one of these recommendations is something I’ve done personally, is at least semi-backed by research, and has worked for others I’ve known, also. I’ve even put it all together in a calendar so you can easily map out your official Month of Stress Reduction!

  1. Define + Live in your Values: Many people talk about their values, but they don’t take time to define them for themselves. So how can you live in alignment with your values if you don’t know what they are? Take a pen to paper and start writing out what you believe in and how you can live in those beliefs each day. Need a jump start? Check out my Values Policy article.
  2. Determine what is in and out of your control: We often stress about things we have no power over. Is it going to rain during our party? Will my boss be a jerk to me today? If we parse out what we have power over and what we don’t, we can lean into the things that we can control and let go of the things we cannot.
  3. Spend time in nature: Reconnect to the universe through nature. When you connect to the environment around you, it’s a solid reminder of how much bigger life is than your immediate issue.
  4. Remove yourself from a toxic environment: In the middle of a nasty conversation? Can’t stand the people you work with? Physically remove yourself from the toxic space that’s leaking its negativity onto your spirit. Not sure if you’re in a toxic workplace? Check out these 5 warning signs.
  5. Set Boundaries: People learn how to treat you by the boundaries you create. If you leave it up to others to decide, you’ll likely get the short end of the stick. Phrases like, “I have another commitment at that time,” or “What would you like me to take off my to-do list in order to accomplish this new task on time?”can be very helpful.
  6. Take yourself on a date: Haven’t gone to your favorite spot in a while? No need to wait for a date to make it happen! Take yourself where you’d like to go. Personally, I love going to the movies alone.
  7. Listen to music: The soothing power of music is no secret. It has a unique link to our emotions, so it can be an extremely effective stress management tool. Listening to music that brings us a sense of calmness can have a tremendously relaxing effect on our minds and bodies.
  8. Get a manicure or pedicure: The circulation created when a technician is massaging your hands/legs/feet actually releases pent-up stress that your body is physically holding on to.
  9. Take a nap: Sleep can be one of the first things to go when we’re stressed out. Racing thoughts keep us up and we need to catch our Zzz’s in elsewhere. If you’re not getting 6 to 8 hours of sleep at night, a nap can be a great way to recharge until you’re back in a healthy routine.
  10. Get a massage: Massage can help relax tight and painful muscles, improve range of motion in the joints, enhance circulation and lower stress levels. It may feel like a luxury experience, but it’s worth every penny if it can physically release some of your tension.
  11. Listen to a podcast: Let’s make sure it’s an episode on a topic that you love and also brings you joy when you learn more about it.
  12. Repeat a mantra: Try one of these mantra’s to play on repeat when you need the healthy reminder: “All situations are temporary.” “There is no wrong decision.” “I’ve survived all the difficult moments in my past.” “I am on the right path.”
  13. Meditate: If practiced for as few as 10 minutes each day, meditation can help you control stress, decrease anxiety, improve cardiovascular health, and achieve a greater capacity for relaxation. Need a guide? Check out the Headspace app.
  14. Move your body: Physical activity produces endorphins—chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers–and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress.
  15. Drink tea: Green tea contains an amino acid that produces a calming effect, and the act of drinking tea can be a relaxing ritual. Pick out some that make your taste buds dance and brew yourself a little relaxing treat each day.
  16. Give someone a hug: Physical acts of touch increase oxytocin levels. This chemical reaction can help to reduce blood pressure, which in turn reduces the risk of heart disease. It can also help to reduce stress and anxiety.
  17. Cook a favorite dish: Cooking can help relieve stress, enhance creativity, and build connection with others. Make sure you set aside blocks of time that are only for cooking. This will make cooking more enjoyable and allow you to focus your energy on the task at hand.
  18. Take a long shower or bath: The heat of the bath mixed with Epsom salt increases the temperature of the aching muscles, helping them to relax, and blocks pain sensors which provide pain relief. Don’t have a tub? Take a shower with Epsom Salt scrubs!
  19. Read a book: The written word can literally take us to other worlds in our mind. A book can feel like a vacation if it’s the right fit for you.
  20. Dance to music that makes you happy: When the body feels good, the mind does, too. Any type of physical activity releases neurotransmitters and endorphins, which serve to alleviate stress.
  21. Take a walk: You can use this as a way to remove yourself from a toxic environment, connect with nature AND talk to a friend!
  22. Sit outside: Getting outside (especially if you’re in an office all day) can be an instant state change. Particularly when the sun is shining and you can soak in the Vitamin D.
  23. Do something creative: Scientists discovered that no matter the artistic experience, about 75 percent of people experience a decrease in their levels of cortisol, a hormone that the body secretes to respond to stress. Go express yourself!
  24. Watch a movie you enjoy: This can be one of the best nostalgic experiences. I always watch Alice in Wonderland when I need a pick me up.
  25. Practice yoga: Yoga is proven to reduce stress, lower blood pressure and lower your heart rate. Namaste, anyone?
  26. Indulge in a favorite treat: Go treat yo’self to something that makes you feel warm and fuzzy when you take it in.
  27. Spend time with pets: Studies show that interactions with animals can decrease stress in humans. Playing with an animal can increase levels of the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin and decrease the production of the stress hormone cortisol.
  28. Practice gratitude: Studies have shown that practicing gratitude on a daily basis can make you happier, lower stress, protect you from depression, help you sleep better, boost your immune system and improve your relationships.
  29. Journal: It’s simply writing down your thoughts and feelings to understand them more clearly. Keeping a journal can help you gain control of your emotions and improve your mental health.
  30. Talk to a friend: Don’t go at it alone. Often the simple act of making people aware of your stress can ignite empathy and support from others. We’ve all been there–and we can lean on each other to come back to a less stressful place.

What if this month, you TRIED a handful of these and reflected back on whether or not they made a difference for you? Then you can create your own toolkit of what works for YOU! I’d love to hear what your list looks like–so let me know in the comments below.

P.S. I wrote this article WHILE getting a pedicure. I love practicing what I preach and I hope you will, too!

 

 

MaryBeth Hyland, founder of SparkVision, believes that when you connect people through purpose, there’s no limit to what they can do. Her organization helps multi-generational teams who need an unbiased partner to identify the gap between their current and ideal culture.  By analyzing a company’s values and behaviors, she ultimately empower your people to own their role in crafting culture every day. SparkVision creates environments where people thrive.

Grounded in her BA in Social Work and MS in Nonprofit Management, this millennial leader is sought after for her ability to create movements that resonate. MaryBeth has been honored in Maryland as ‘Innovator of the Year,’ ‘Women on the Move,’ ‘Top 100 Women,’ ‘Top 100 Millennial Blog, ’Civic Engagement Leader’ and ‘Leading Women.’

 

Do employees care about your company’s philanthropic priorities? My guess is some do, but if you exclusively build your volunteer programs around your company’s social impact goals, you’re missing out on a huge engagement opportunity.

I see tech companies focusing on STEM, banks working on financial literacy, manufacturers and retailers supporting sustainability through their supply chains. All these make sense when the company is mobilizing its philanthropic and brand resources to achieve social impact goals, but too often companies treat their employees as just another corporate resource to be mobilized.

You may have noticed that not all people are exactly the same. Our upbringing, our life experiences, our cultural influences, our talents, and how we identify ourselves make every person unique. Working for a bank does not mean you are naturally excited about teaching budgeting for small businesses. Being a chip designer does not mean you are naturally excited about helping high school students build robots.

Yet that’s how many volunteer programs are designed—to mobilize employees in support of the impact goal. It’s an easy sell to the C Suite, and it’s also how many nonprofit partners want the programs designed.

Certainly, there’s room for that kind of programming, but you also need to empower your employees to find and support the causes that are important to them. Here are three easy ways to do that:

1)  Offer time off for volunteering: Companies that don’t offer paid community service hours are missing a huge recognition opportunity. Community service time is different from PTO because it can only be used for time spent working with a nonprofit. A typical program offers 16 hours a year or more.

2) Create volunteer councils, run by and for employees: Encouraging employees to work together in designing and running local team volunteer events results in higher engagement. It can also build leadership skills and create a great networking opportunity for employees.

3)  Recognize independent volunteering: An employee’s hours volunteering as a school crossing guard may not be relevant to your company’s social impact goals, but employees feel great when you recognize them for the volunteer community work they do. And, rather than a typical dollars-for-doers program which is little more than a transaction, recognize volunteerism with e-cards, internal social media mentions, or flexible company grant dollars the employee can direct to a nonprofit they choose.

What other ways do you engage employees that allow them to find and follow their passions in their own volunteering? You can tell me, and pick up tips from leading practitioners, at the 17th Annual Charities@Work Employee Engagement Summit in New York, June 28-29.

 

About Peter Dudley

Peter Dudley is an author and nationally recognized expert in corporate social responsibility, marketing, and employee engagement. He’s worked the last 17 years in CSR running employee giving and volunteerism for Wells Fargo, where his workplace campaign was ranked #1 nine years in a row by United Way Worldwide. Before joining Wells Fargo, Peter held various roles in high tech startups, from Marketing Director to software development to community management.

Peter is honored to serve on the Community Health Charities national board of directors as well as the Charities@Work Corporate Advisory Council, which he chaired in 2015 and 2016. He has also served on and chaired United Way Worldwide’s Global Corporate Leadership Council.

Peter lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and is the proud father of both an Eagle Scout and a transgender daughter. 

We are committed to ensuring that our more than 2,000 charity partners are held to the highest standard of trust. Our partnership with the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance holds charity partners to the 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability, signaling that they are trustworthy and held to high standards of conduct.

We are both proud and grateful for our collaboration with the BBB Wise Giving Alliance. Together, we are building stronger, healthier communities.

It’s that time of year again– the NCAA basketball tournament is underway. While enjoying the hoops action, don’t foul out your health. There are ways to keep on track at work, and at home. Stay in the game with these March Madness health tips:

  • Host a lunchtime basketball game or start a company basketball team
  • Compete to see who can consistently make the healthiest choices with a March Madness-style bracket
  • Install a mini basketball hoop on an office door to spark some office competition and reduce stress
  • Plan ahead and snack smart with these healthy options from some of our charity partners:

Wise Giving Wednesday: Deducting Donations at Tax Time was originally published on BBB Wise Giving Alliance, a Community Health Charities partner. 

In recent months, concerns were raised about the impact of U.S. tax law changes in 2018 since, among other things, the increase in the standard deduction to $12,000 per individual or $24,000 per couple, could reduce the incentive for some households to get a charitable deduction since fewer tax filers would itemize on their returns. While it is too early to tell if this fear will materialize, those claiming charitable deductions on their 2017 income taxes, should still keep in mind the following fundamentals.

One can claim a charitable deduction for contributions made to organizations tax exempt as charities under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and to veterans organizations tax-exempt under section 501(c)(19) of the Internal Revenue Code.  Contributions to other tax-exempt entities are generally not deductible as charitable gifts. To verify a group’s tax-exempt status visit the following IRS web page: https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/exempt-organizations-select-check

If the charity sends you something of value in response to your gift (for example, a stuffed animal, book, or concert tickets) only the portion of your donation above the fair market value of what you receive would be deductible. The charity will usually remind you about this in their acknowledgement or thank you message.

Direct contributions to needy individuals, are generally not deductible as charitable gifts. While it is clear that one can’t deduct handouts made to the homeless, the deductibility of gifts made to crowdfunding postings can be a bit cloudy depending on the fact circumstances.

If a donor contributes to a charitable project that has been posted to a crowdfunding site that is owned and managed by a 501(c)(3) charity, the donation generally will be deductible. If, however, one contributes to a charitable project on a crowdfunding site that is owned and managed by a for-profit company, one needs to be cautious since the deductibility can be impacted by whether the payment platform used by the site sends the gift directly to the specified charity. If the crowdfunding posting, however, is to help a specific named individual (for example to fund a dream overseas trip) there is little chance for donors to claim a deduction.

Finally, the value of volunteer time or services to a charity is not deductible. Out of pocket expenses, such as gas and travel expenses directly related to the volunteer service will usually be deductible.

 

Women have been building stronger, healthier communities for centuries— breaking down barriers, advancing research, and making life-saving discoveries.

In 1849, Elizabeth Blackwell, MD was the first woman to earn a medical degree. Blackwell co-founded an infirmary to help women gain experience as physicians after her graduation. 167 years later in 2016, there were 253,635 female physiciansVirgina Apgar developed the first series of tests determine newborn babies’ health in 1952. The Apgar Score is used in most hospitals worldwide today and works to reduce infant mortality. Dr. Antonia Novella became the first female and first Hispanic U.S. Surgeon General in 1990. While in office, Novella advocated for the rights and health of women, children, and minorities.

These women, and countless more, have been working to make the world a better place.

Now, it’s our turn. Honor their history by working to improve the future: Volunteer with Alzheimer’s Association, Susan G. Komen, and other charities supporting women. Support Women’s Health and help women live longer, healthier lives.

This Women’s History Month, continue the tradition of building stronger, healthier communities—for everyone.

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You take care of your heart and your lungs, but when is the last time to you prioritized kidney health?

Most people are born with two kidneys, and these vital fist-sized organs are responsible for removing waste from the body, regulating blood pressure, controlling the production of red blood cells, producing an active form of Vitamin D that promotes healthy bones, controlling pH levels, and more.

March is National Kidney Month. Use this month to get a kick-start on National Kidney Foundation’s kidney-healthy habits that will help keep your kidneys (and you) running:

  • Eat mindfully: Avoid high sodium foods with high saturated fat content
  • Stay hydrated: Keep a water bottle on hand—dehydration can damage kidneys.
  • Keep moving: Whether you’re taking a walk or hitting the gym, work physical fitness into your routine.
  • Start a conversation: Prevention is the best way to cure kidney disease. Share kidney health resources with friends, family, and coworkers, and make kidney health a group activity.

Your kidneys keep you going. Take the National Kidney Foundation’s advice and Heart Your Kidneys.

February is American Heart Month.

Nearly 85.6 million Americans are living with some form of cardiovascular disease or the after-effects of stroke. Chances are, your coworkers are living with a heart condition or know someone who is. This February, start some heart-healthy habits in your workplace:

  • Initiate a step competition. Physical activity is anything that makes you move your body and burn calories—American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity five days a week. Get your team geared up with fitness trackers and get moving.
  • Allow flexible work schedules. Chronic stress can contribute to heart disease—the leading cause of death for both men and women. Help your employees manage stress by giving them some flexibility. Life happens; allow your employees to cope with it.
  • Host a healthy potluck. Healthy eating is one of the best things you can do to prevent heart disease. Ask employees to bring in their favorite heart-healthy dishes for an office potluck—they can use American Heart Association’s How To Eat Healthy Without “Dieting” guidelines if they aren’t sure what to bring.
  • Share heart healthy resources. Help your employees keep up their healthy habits outside the office with our charity partners’ health resources.
  • Support Women’s Health and Men’s Health. Include Women’s Health and Men’s Health in your workplace giving campaign to support research, preventative care, diagnosis, and treatment so that everyone can live their healthiest, best lives.

Continue reading “5 Heart Healthy Habits At Work”

This Sunday, don’t just join friends and family for the big game—unite with the world in the fight against cancer.

Sunday, February 4 is World Cancer Day. Our charity partners are fighting this Sunday, and every day, to find a cure for cancer and support everyone affected by it:

  • Andy was diagnosed at age 60 with multiple myeloma, a cancer that he lost his first wife to 12 years prior. A treatment involving stem cell transplantation saved his life. Now, Andy rides his bike with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Team In Training to fundraise and find a cure for multiple myeloma.
  • Jim was given six months to live after being diagnosed with multiple myeloma, an incurable blood cancer. That was 25 years ago. The American Cancer Society funded the scientists who saved Jim’s life.
  • Gideon spent his first Christmas at home for the first time in 2017 after spending his first two in care at  St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Doctors discovered tumors on his legs, arms, face, and stomach when Gideon was only seven months old.

This World Cancer Day, join in the conversation about cancer, beating it, and advancing life-saving research. Share cancer resources and support our trusted charity partners fighting to find a cure: Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen, Cancer Research Institute, and Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

Stay in the game with these healthy options for your big game party.

Huddle up, because our charity partners have created some delicious, healthy alternatives to traditional game day snacks.

Heart healthy game-day treats that leave everyone satisfied? Touchdown!

Congress recently passed a tax bill reducing taxes for the majority of Americans. While this may be good news for some households, the tax change will double the standard deduction and may reduce the incentive to donate to charity—it is estimated to cost charities $12 to 20 billion annually.

This year, if you’re benefiting from tax changes, consider giving back.  Try one of these simple ways to give back, courtesy of the The New York Times.  Our favorite?

  • The tax bill is expected to cost charities up to $20 billion annually, and these charities and the people they support need your help more than ever.

Read more about #GiveItBack in the The New York Times.

Your good fortune can save a life, find a cure, or rebuild a community. It’s easy to give wisely: Community Health Charities has more than 2,000 Better Business Bureau trusted health charities needing your support. We have multiple ways to incorporate workplace giving into your organization’s culture, whether you’re looking to institute payroll deductions in a customizable platform or simply make it easy for employees to give with a Give Now page.

 

Community Health Charities proudly pledged to support #OperationPrevention, in partnership with Milken Institute, Drug Enforcement Administration and Discovery Education to combat opioid misuse in schools, homes, and communities nationwide. The no-cost program offers resources for students, teachers, and parents to combat and prevent addiction. Pledge to spread awareness today.

Take action:  Check out Community Health Charities’ addiction  resources, read one doctor’s take on the opioid crisis, establish a Give Now page or giving campaign to help, and support the work of our charity partners fighting to end addiction: Hazelden Betty Ford FoundationThe National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, and Shatterproof.

This year, don’t make your resolutions about cutting back—make them about giving back.

  • Give yourself mental and physical health. This year, prioritize mental and physical wellbeing. 77% of U.S. workers suffer from at least one long-term health condition, from cancer to diabetes. Take time every day to focus on de-stressing and physically moving, whether you’re doing a crossword puzzle, taking a walk, or making a healthy dinner for your family. Give your employees the same gift of wellness by educating employees and offering our health resources.
  • Give your time. No matter where you live, your community needs your help. Set aside time in 2018 to volunteer. Use our volunteer opportunity locator tool to find organizations in your area supporting the causes you care about. If you’re looking to volunteer with your office, utilize our Volunteer On The Spot guide to make a difference during the workday.
  • Give your support. Congress recently passed a tax bill reducing taxes for the majority of Americans. While this is good news for many, doubling the standard deduction means fewer people will itemize charitable deductions on their taxes and is estimated to cost charities $12 to 20 billion annually. This year, if you saved on your taxes, consider giving back by eating locally or donating financially. Offer your team giving options including Give Now pages or a workplace giving campaign, featuring our causes and over 2,000 trusted charity partners.

New Year, stronger, healthier communities.

This year-end giving season is unlike any other.

Annually, 31% of giving occurs during DecemberHowever, this year, donors are already fatigued. Hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and wildfires caused over $15 billion in damage as of October. Puerto Ricans have been living without full power since Hurricane Maria hit the island in September. Wildfires took the lives of 42 people, injured 7,700, and burned over 8,400 homes and buildings. Hurricane Harvey flooded Texas, dumping 27 trillion gallons of rain and leaving an estimated 30,000 people needing temporary shelter. As if that weren’t enough, violent tragedies in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs rocked the nation.

As is tradition, Americans rise up and come together to support those in need, with an outpouring of generosity to rebuild lives and communities.

Meanwhile, the House and Senate are working to pass a bill that could have devastating effects on the number of Americans eligible to write off charitable giving as a tax deduction. Of highest concern is doubling the standard deduction limit currently in place for taxpayers. According to IRS data, this would remove the tax incentive for an estimated $95 billion of annual charitable giving and reduce the number of itemizers from one-third of Americans to about five percent. This could reduce charitable giving by as much as$20 billion.

With all the needs in our country (and world), we can’t afford to lose billions in charitable giving. Now is the time to support the causes that matter most to you.

Read more on The Huffington Post.

Community Health Charities urges all nonprofits across the nation to alert their constituencies to help turn the tide on what could be some very serious and unintended consequences—charities are expected to lose billions of dollars in charitable donations—if the current versions of the Senate and House tax reform bills pass without changes we urgently seek.

We need all Community Health Charities’ charity partners, supporters, and friends to join the thousands of other nonprofits in contacting your elected officials and urging them to protect charitable giving in the Senate tax reform bill. Doubling the standard deduction will eliminate the charitable deduction for 95% of Americans. The result? An estimated $12-20 billion lost in charitable giving. Ask your senator to avoid this devastating consequence by expanding the charitable deduction to all Americans with the Universal Charitable Giving Act.

The House took up and passed its tax bill on Thursday.  The Senate sent a tax bill out of the Finance Committee on Thursday as well. We expect it to go to the floor the week after Thanksgiving. However, it has been a case of “good news” and “bad news” so far.

As of this writing, both the House and Senate raised the limits on how much taxpayers can give from 50 to 60% of their adjusted gross income.  That is good.  In the not-so-good category, neither the House nor the Senate have embraced a universal charitable deduction to preserve the value of the charitable deduction.

The details of the proposed legislation:

What is the same?

Both the Senate and House bills share some of the same provisions:

  • Doubled standard deduction and preservation of the charitable deduction.
  • Increased AGI limits for the charitable deduction for cash gifts from 50% to 60% (Senate sunset after 12/31/2025).
  • Elimination of the Pease limitation (Senate sunset after 12/31/2025).
  • A 1.4% excise tax on investment income of private colleges and universities, and organizations formally related to the institution, with assets valued of at least $250,000 per full-time student.
  • Doubled estate tax and generation-skipping tax exemption to $10 million (Senate sunset after 12/31/2025).
  • A 20% excise tax on executive compensation over $1 million at tax-exempt organizations.

What is different?

There are some key differences. The House version also includes:

  • Streamlined private foundation excise tax to 1.4%.
  • Requirement that donor-advised fund sponsoring organizations disclose inactive fund policies, as well as average amount of grants made from their DAFs.
  • Estate tax and generation-skipping tax repeal after six years.
  • Repeal of the Johnson Amendment, effectively allowing all 501(c)(3) organizations to engage in political speech in the ordinary course of the organization’s business (Sunset after five years).

What comes next:  

Now, the Senate Finance Committee will have to write legislative text based on the provisions that passed on Thursday. The Senate is expected to bring the bill to the floor for a vote the week of November 27, and thereafter the two chambers will have to come to an agreement before the final bill can be sent to the President’s desk. There are many differences between the Senate and House versions, so we expect a lot of change and compromise in the negotiation process.

The problem

During the debate in the Senate Finance Committee, Senators Stabenow (D-MI) and Wyden (D-OR) offered an amendment that would create an above-the-line charitable deduction for non-itemizers with an AGI cap of 60% and a phase-out for high-income taxpayers, similar to the Pease limitation. After Republicans argued that they are maintaining the charitable deduction in tax reform, and claimed that you can only create this policy if you decide not to double the standard deduction, the provision failed on a party-line vote of 14 nays to 12 yeas.

Although both were listed with the original amendments, Senator Thune (R-SD) did not offer the CHARITY Act as an amendment or the extended carryforward rule. The CHARITY Act would streamline the PF excise tax to 1%, expand the IRA charitable rollover to include distributions to donor-advised funds, and declare a sense of the Senate that the scope and value of the charitable deduction should not be diminished in comprehensive tax reform, among other provisions. The extended carryforward rule would make the charitable carryforward window 15 years instead of the 5 year window under current law.

Tax Policy Center and JCT Analyses

New research from the Tax Policy Center (TPC) tells us charitable giving will be affected by the House tax reform bill, and it’s mostly what we already knew. TPC estimates that H.R. 1 could reduce charitable giving by between $12 billion and $20 billion in 2018. In addition, while TPC has yet to publish research on the Senate version, it is likely safe to assume the findings would be similar.

This research is remarkably consistent with a study released earlier this year from the Indiana University (IU) Lilly Family School of Philanthropy that found the proposals considered in the Republican tax reform plan – such as expanding the standard deduction – could reduce charitable giving by as much as $13 billion. The drop in giving comes as a result of reducing the number of those who itemize to just 5% of Americans, which the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) confirmed last week would lead to a reduction of $95 billion being claimed as charitable deductions.

The evidence is now stacking up – the unintended consequence of current tax reform policies under consideration is a reduction in charitable giving.

Universal Charitable Giving Act

As you know, charities have rallied behind a universal charitable deduction as a way to protect against the consequences of an expanded standard deduction. Fortunately, there are options for lawmakers to consider. Just this week on Tuesday, November 14, Senator James Lankford (R-OK) introduced the Senate companion to the Universal Charitable Giving Act, which was originally introduced by Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) in the House in October. As you may recall, the bill would extend an above-the-line charitable deduction to non-itemizers that would be capped at one-third of the standard deduction. So, although nothing was included in the Senate tax package that would ensure more Americans have access to a tax benefit for charitable giving, Senator Lankford’s universal charitable a deduction bill can still be considered by the full Senate, and perhaps even included in their final tax reform bill.

What needs to be done:

Ask your constituencies to contact their senators – and specifically Senator James Lankford (R-OK)— and urge them to protect charitable giving in the Senate tax reform bill. They need to understand that the charitable deduction, in the current iteration, is not being protected.  Again, have your supporters explain how doubling of the standard deduction will eliminate the charitable deduction for 95% of Americans and result in a loss of $12-20 billion in charitable giving. Tell your senator that the way to avoid this devastating consequence is to expand the charitable deduction to all Americans.

Even though the House has already passed its version of tax reform, have them contact their representative and relay the same information. The House and Senate versions of tax reform still need to be reconciled and your elected officials need to understand what the current proposals will do to charitable giving.

Keep in mind that all elected officials will be in their home states and districts this upcoming Thanksgiving week. More than ever before, now is the time for your organization to rally the troops and tell our elected representatives how tax reform will affect your charities and community.

Looking to donate to a cause close to your heart? This #GivingTuesday—November 28, 2017— follow these three steps for a chance to win $500 to donate to your favorite charity from our charity partners.

  • Take a #HealthySelfie that shows you doing something to improve health — it could be eating a healthy snack, using our health resources, hitting the gym, volunteering or giving to make your community healthier, or just taking a break for your mental health.
  • Share your #HealthySelfie on social media. Entries submitted via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram will have a chance to win.
  • Tag @HealthCharities, #GivingTuesday, and #HealthySelfie in your submission.

A different winner will be chosen on each platform, based on engagement (so encourage your friends to favorite/like your post). The winner of the Twitter competition will be able to direct $500 to a charity partner of their choice; winners on Instagram and Facebook will be able to direct $250. See list of eligible charities. Be sure to enter only pictures that you have a right to share and post. Thanks to a generous donor for sponsoring this campaign.

Submission deadline is November 28 11:59 PM ET. Engagements are due November 29 9:00 AM ET.

This #GivingTuesday, we’re working to build stronger, healthier communities. Join us for #HealthySelfie and check out six more ways to give this year.