Lehigh Valley

Nonprofits worry donations will decrease after new tax bill

'Tis the season of giving but many non-profits are left wondering what lies ahead.

They're worried the new tax code will have their usual contributors feeling less charitable in the new year.

Boss, a happy go lucky Pit bull, was recently saved from a date with death by Outcast Rescue.

The local 501c3 focuses on hard-luck canine medical cases stuck in shelters.

Founder Crystal Roman says they rely 100 percent on donations. She's now concerned what impact the recently signed tax bill will have on her donors.

"I can tell you we are going to really struggle if people don't want to donate as much," she said. "One of our vet bills is approaching $20,000."

Her sentiment is shared by nonprofits across the Lehigh Valley and the country. The United Way says the majority of its donations from its 18,000 donors are around $350.

But the question is, will that continue?

The new tax law raises the standard deduction, making it less likely that taxpayers will itemize their deductions. Those who don't itemize can't deduct charitable donations and might not feel the need to open their wallets. 

"We have not talked to an accountant. We definitely will have to come up with other ways to raise money if we don't get many donations, Roman said.

"We do have some concerns the philanthropists and charitable givers may not be giving on the frequency they do and same volume they do," said Erica Riddle, a CPA for Lehigh Valley Community Foundation.

The nonprofit  connects donors to charities. Riddle points out the Tax  Policy Center expects $12 to $15 billion in charitable losses next year. She is hopeful it won't hit that hard in the Lehigh Valley.

"Philanthropists have the giving gene. They want to give to causes that matter to them," she said.

The United Way is also optimistic that those in the Lehigh Valley will continue to give.

"I think it makes it more important that we tell our story and talk about our mission," Peter Brown of the Red Cross added.

Brown says 75 percent of the Red Cross budget comes from small individual donations. He says the new tax code changes how they will fundraise in the future.

"I think that will be important for nonprofits across the board, not just the Red Cross. It puts an emphasis on making sure people understand and appreciate the value of what you do in the community versus just 'well I can send them $50 'cause I can write it off on my tax return,'" Brown said.

That value for Boss is a loving home instead of an early grave.

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