Counting Blessings and Giving Thanks

As we enter the holiday season, we are reflecting on the many reasons we at Truman Heartland Community Foundation have to be thankful and the ways we can help our donors make an impact on our community through their charitable giving.

We are thankful for our hundreds of donors who are committed to making an impact on our community through their charitable giving. On November 16, we held our 23rd Annual Grants Luncheon with more than 200 attendees at Adams Pointe Conference Center. At the celebration we distributed more than $347,000 in grants to 60 local nonprofits on behalf of the 26 endowed charitable funds at the community foundation. Additionally, each year we reach out to our donor-advised fund holders and charitable partners with the opportunity to supplement the grant dollars available through the competitive grants program. We are so thankful to our donors and local partners, including the Junior Services League of Independence, the Kansas City Metro Men’s Chorus and our own Youth Advisory Council, who lend their support to local charities. This year, our donor advised fund holders and charitable partners generously provided an additional $64,000 in funding. We are very thankful for the generosity of our luncheon sponsor Stewardship Capital and appreciate the work of the local nonprofits who received these grants and who serve our community every day.

Now is a great time to give back and show your support for your favorite charities. Everyone knows that about the shopping days after Thanksgiving – Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday – but I hope you are also aware that the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, this year, November 27, 2018, is #GivingTuesday. #GivingTuesday is a day to encourage philanthropy and inspire people to give back. End of the year giving is critical to many nonprofits and #GivingTuesday is like opening day. Be sure to mark your calendar and show your support this #GivingTuesday and all season long.

If you act quickly, you can make a great impact through your end of year charitable giving and potentially save yourself thousands in taxes this year. In my September column, I encouraged everyone to think about their year-end tax planning and for those who are charitably minded, plans for year-end contributions to favorite charities. In light of the new tax laws and the doubling of the standard deduction, utilizing your donor advised fund to bunch your charitable contributions can be a great tax wise way to give back and still continue to itemize charitable deductions. But time is running out to take advantage of this charitable giving tool for this tax season. Create a donor advised fund and maximize your year-end giving before it is too late.

Making a qualified charitable distribution (QCD) directly from your IRA is another valuable tax wise tool. Remember, if you are 70 ½ or older and have required minimum distributions (RMD) from your IRA, you can make a QCD directly to your favorite charities. This will fulfill your RMD and you will not have to claim the donated portion on your income taxes.

And with Missouri state tax credit provisions, your year-end giving can go even further. The provisions offer additional incentives for giving to qualified food pantries, pregnancy resource centers and children in crisis programs. For example, Community Services League qualifies for the Food Pantry Tax Credit and you could receive tax credits of 50 percent of your donation. Hope House qualifies for similar tax credits through the Missouri Domestic Violence Tax Credit.

We are blessed to live in a great community where people care about one another and lend their talents and time to their community. In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s important to take time to pause and count your blessings, give thanks and remember what this season is all about.

Phil Hanson is the President and CEO of Truman Heartland Community Foundation. Truman Heartland Community Foundation (THCF) is a 501(c)(3) public charity committed to improving the communities in and around Eastern Jackson County through cooperation with community members and donors. THCF serves the region with assets of more than $47 million and annual grants surpassing $3 million. For more information on charitable giving, visit of call Truman Heartland at 816.836.8189.