With the first frost ready to hit Flagstaff this weekend (cover those late tomatoes!), the season of giving has started.
Early fall is the time when charities launch their end-of-year donation drives before the Christmas buying frenzy distracts would-be givers. This weekend alone there is the “Beans and Rice” concert at the Orpheum for the Poore Medical Clinic and the Buffalo Park BLE (Best Life Ever) fundraiser in honor of the late Dr. Nate Avery.
Or, in the case of the Arizona Community Foundation of Flagstaff, checks are handed out just as nonprofits begin their program years. This coming Monday, the foundation will award $1.33 million to 112 organizations at a ceremony at the High Country Conference Center, the fruits of a growing endowment and investment income from private funders.
The Foundation coordinates grantmaking from local philanthropic funds. It then arranges interviews where all of the collaborating funders can learn about proposed projects from representatives of the nonprofits in person. This process reduces the administrative workload for nonprofits applying for funds and for funders looking to support projects that resonate with their interests and values.
The other model for charitable fundraising and distribution is the United Way of Northern Arizona, which has 27 nonprofit partner agencies in Coconino, Navajo and Apache counties that provide services in education, health and income. The city of Flagstaff and Coconino County contribute to the United Way to support safety net programs like emergency housing and the food bank that government otherwise would have to provide. The United Way also raises funds from businesses and individuals, with the bulk of its $1.7 million campaign goal met by weekly and biweekly payroll deductions from local employees. The 2017-18 Campaign Co-Chairs are Colleen Smith, president of Coconino Community College, and Jeanne Swarthout, president of Northland Pioneer College.
The UWNA turns 50 this year, and part of its anniversary celebration is holding a special drive for its KinderCamp program, a four-week “bootcamp” for preschoolers to ensure that they are academically, socially and emotionally ready to enter kindergarten. That effort is being led by Coconino County Supervisor Liz Archuleta.
The drive, called “50 for 50,” aims to raise an extra $50,000 to mark the 50 years the United Way has been in northern Arizona.
In recent years, the Legislature has upped the so-called “working poor” income tax credit so that some donations to United Way can be made on the installment plan, then rebated at tax time – up to $400 for an individual, $800 for a couple. If you didn’t make the donations, the state would keep your tax money, so why not keep it at home?
Here’s how it works: Check off the box on the United Way pledge form labeled “Arizona Charitable Tax Credit” and designate an amount. The United Way makes sure your donations go to tax-credit-eligible agencies such as the Flagstaff Family Food Center, North Country Healthcare and Northland Family Help Center. Then at income tax time, take the amount of your United Way working poor donation straight off your state taxes owed. And if you are owed a tax refund of $500 but also donated $400, you’ll get back $900 instead. (An additional credit separate from United Way is also available for donations to extracurricular activities at individual public schools.)
Flagstaff is a giving town, and with the United Way and the Flagstaff Community Foundation, residents can be assured that those gifts are going to the right places and in the right way.