What is Martin Luther King Day? If a child asked you this question, you might respond confidently, ‘This is a day we remember a great man, Martin Luther King.’ But is it? Sure the day is named after King, but do we remember him on it? Do we really remember him at all?

Considering the overwhelming santaclausification of King into some jolly impotent figure from long past history, I would say that the fearless radical anti-war activist criminal alive just a few decades ago who the FBI called “the most dangerous man in America” is hardly really remembered. Misremembered, yes. Truly remembered, no.

As Professor Cornel West said back in 2010, “We have to resist the ‘santaclausification’ of Martin Luther King. I don’t want to sanitize Martin Luther King. I don’t want to deodorize Dr. Martin Luther King. I don’t want to disinfect Dr. Martin Luther King, and we’re not gonna domesticate Dr. King!”

We misremember King as an unreal impotent, PC black Santa Claus politely asking if his friend Rosa can sit down when what makes him worth remembering is quite the opposite: He was a fiery, controversial, unresting activist arrested multiple times whose powerful, radical challenges to the war, economic inequality and of course segregation scared the living hell out of not only the average white conservative but the governmental powers that be. His commitment to non-violent methods and focus on love only made it harder for his enemies to undermine him and undermine his powerful criticisms in the eye of the public. While arguably most of his grand, vast, radical vision was shot to death with him in 1968, much of the hard progress that was made then and since then is thanks to him.

Although racial equality and non-racism in America is still far off, and although King’s unrelenting, vociferous attack on the Vietnam war may have garnered him the most dangerous enemies, this is after all a blog about poverty. The adamant, revolutionary critic of poverty demanding economic equality has been greatly forgotten not remembered. The man who was brought to tears upon seeing schoolchildren in Mississippi fed their meager lunch of a slice of apple and some crackers is generally not remembered.

“The curse of poverty has no justification in our age. It is socially as cruel and blind as the practice of cannibalism at the dawn of civilization,” Dr. King said. “The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty.”

Of course he was more revolutionary than one just asking for more charity and handouts: “True compassion is more than flinging a coin at a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring,” Dr. King said.

Unfortunately, Martin Luther King’s “Poor People’s Campaign” was unsuccessful after his assassination. Globally, 18,000 children die every single day from world hunger. In the United States, millions suffer in poverty including millions of children as well as millions of working poor. Like his dreams of a colorblind society and an end to American militarism, Dr. King’s dream of abolishing poverty has also gone unfulfilled and its creator misremembered.

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How to Thank Donors

19 December 2011

Over 20% of giving happens within the last two days of December. So get your pens and word processors ready: your January will be full of thank you letters. But there are more ways to thank your donors and your non profit should look into incorporating one or more of these techniques . Donors are far more likely to continue donating to an organization that has thanked them and thanked them often. It is more cost effective for a non profit to foster and grow their current donors than to solicit new ones.

Formal Thank You

Does your organization have a plan on how thank you’s are handled? It should. For donations over $250, the law requires a written “receipt”, which can and is done in the form of a thank you letter acknowledging the gift and when it was received. While it is required for those donations over $250, an organization should do it for each and every donation it receives.

Newsletter and Web Acknowledgement

If your organization creates a regular newsletter, highlight the contribution. Thank the donors who have taken the time to contribute to the success of your organization. If you create a paper newsletter, it is easy to turn it into a document suitable for emailing and email it, if necessary. Many non profits now produce digital newsletters and few send paper newsletters out. If possible, let one issue of your newsletter each year focus on those who contributed and made a difference in the lives of those you serve.

Phone Calls

Have the Executive Director and the Board Chair pick up the phone and actually call the donor. Thank them for their support and explain how much their contribution means to the organization and to those you serve. Illustrate the value of that donation by telling them, for example, “thanks to your generous contribution, XYZ organization can provide five meals to homeless children, buy enough material to build one home for the elderly. Concrete examples bring the value of the donation to full focus.

Send Program and Organizational Updates

A few times a year let your donors know how you are doing. Let them see how their donations are helping your programs and allowing you to further meet the needs of the community. Use this opportunity to give them the opportunity to feel good about the good they are doing in the community and continue to engage them in your program, mission and services.

Photos

Send action photos of their donations at work. Take photos at every opportunity. Having not only the historical reference for future use, this allows you to take that photo and write a note to accompany it. Let the donor see the happy, smiling kids receiving their new school supplies. Send the photo of the completed house you built for the elderly woman who’s house burned down. Having that concrete, tangible illustration of the benefit of their donation will continue to fan the flame.

Invite Donors

This useful guide was prepared by the Grammarly grammar checker team to assist non-profits in establishing effective communication channels with their donors. Proper writing is key to maintain the professional image of your organization. Always utilize a grammar checker before hitting send.

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You have already had the brilliant idea and formed the nonprofit organization within your state to address the need in your community. Your organization meets all of the state requirements for a nonprofit organization, but you have discovered your efforts at fundraising are hampered by the fact that you do not have federal recognition of your nonprofit status; therefore funds to your organization are not tax deductible. What is your next step? How do you take your organization to that next level? Should you take your organization to that level?

 

If your organization has an attorney, you can ask if it is a prudent step. If you already know it is, then you can certainly complete the paperwork yourself. It is a process– and not a small one– to complete the forms and collect the documentation. Form 1023 from the IRS will guide you through the entire process. It also provides a complete checklist that you can use to make sure that you are providing the IRS with every piece of information, along with the appropriate user fee, that they require.

 

The organization needs to be aware that, while there are several advantages to receiving tax exempt nonprofit status (510c3 status), there are some disadvantages and the Board of Directors needs to have all of the information in hand when making the decision.

Advantages

            Tax Benefit

Your organization will receive a tax benefit by having this status. The organization will need to contact qualified tax/accountant professionals to ensure that all state and federal rules and regulations are being followed. The primary tax benefit will be that an organization does not have to pay taxes on the profits earned at the end of the year. This will enable the nonprofit put more funds back into the organization to further your mission.

 

Donor Confidence

For many nonprofits, this is the key advantage. Donations made to your organization become tax deductible once you have received your 501c3 status. This status makes your organization so much more appealing and trustworthy in the eyes of donors.

This does not just apply to individual and corporate donors but to the Federal Government, as well. Almost 100% of the federal dollars awarded through grant competitions are awarded to organizations that have 501c3 status. Simply put; if you do not have nonprofit tax exempt status you are not eligible to apply for and receive federal funding. If your nonprofit does not think it will ever need to rely on federal funding, then this may be something that does not persuade your Board. However, diversifying funding streams is essential to every organization– profit and nonprofit.

Disadvantages

Cost

We have all heard the phrase: “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” And obtaining and keeping your tax exempt status is evidence of that statement. While the advantages may bring in various quantities of much needed funds, it is not without a price. From the cost to complete the comprehensive federal forms (unless you feel qualified to complete the forms on your own) to the user fee that EVERYONE who applies has to pay.  The user fee changes frequently and it is advisable to double and triple check that fee before finally sending off the completed forms.

 

In addition,there are ongoing costs that are associated with maintaining your tax exempt status. These can include professional staff to monitor your program compliance, audit and accounting staff. Be aware before you apply that the costs do not stop when the application is mailed.

 

Red Tape

There are a number of words that could have been used to name this disadvantage; bureaucracy, compliance, rules or regulations. However, it all amounts to the same thing. The ongoing cost to keep your tax exempt status can all be boiled down to “red tape”.  If your organization receives funds from the federal government, you have to spend that money the way your contract requires. They do check.

 

Depending on the amount of federal funding received and the organizations bottom line, a set of audited financial statements will need to be prepared by a qualified third party accountant. All of the rules, regulations and requirements are provided to you with your federal award. It is worth the time to read and understand that document so that you know what is expected of you.

The last thing a nonprofit organization wants is to have your federal funds recaptured, that is, having to pay back all of the federal funds you were given. No one wants that; so read your grant agreement fully and follow the rules.

 

 

Prepared by the Grammarly grammar checker writing team to encourage and educate in the field of non-profit activities in partnership with www.wideawake.org

If you have a desire for helping others, and are considering starting your own organization, a degree in social justice can help you learn the skills you will need.

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We have all been there. Taken in by the plight of someone in need. But what do you do if you want to make sure the organization you want to donate to is worthy and reputable? There are some easy ways you can make sure.

 

Contact

If you are located in the same city as the organization, pick up the telephone and call the organization and ask for the fundraising office. Ask them for their tax id number and ask if your donation would be tax deductible. If the fundraising office cannot give you that tax id number and tells you that the donation would not be tax deductible; thank them and hang up. And run! Do not write these people a check. Even if you are not interested in taking a tax deduction for your donation, the fact that your donation would not be indicates that the organization is not engaged in charitable activities.

 

IRS

The Internal Revenue Service maintains a list of all IRS approved non profits and charities. If you have access to the Internet it is reasonably easy to go to the IRS website (www.irs.gov) and check the charity and non profit section. With recent changes to the statues, the IRS has begun stripping many once charitable organizations of their tax exempt status. That means donations to these organizations are no longer tax deductible. While these organizations may still do fine work in the community; they fail to meet the federal government’s standard of a tax exempt charity. The website is full of sites like the IRS and Guidestar that will provide you with information regarding the organization you are interested in.

 

Better Business Bureau

Your local Better Business Bureau is also available to provide you with information regarding organizations within your community. Phone your local office and ask if there have been any complaints filed. Keep in mind however, that just because someone has filed a complaint against an organization doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t contribute. Sometimes people file complaints because they didn’t get what they wanted. Not because of anything bad or criminal that the organization has done. By the same token, just because no one has complained, doesn’t mean the organization is completely pure.

 

Reputation

Ask around. Most non profit organizations have websites these days and the majority of them list who has donated. Check to see if you know someone on the list. See if other organizations that you are familiar with do business with the non profit. Reputation within a community is a valuable commodity and non profits work hard to keep that reputation as positive as they can. If you are interested in a specific non profit, talk to them. They will be willing to answer your questions and provide you with literature and additional information. If you truly want to see what they do, ask. They will be glad to show you. And this glimpse into the organization will give you an even broader idea of just where your contribution will go and what it will provide within the organization and within the community.

 

Another excellent option is to make use of independent rating organizations such as charity navigator. Regardless of your methodology it is in good judgement to practice due diligence when it comes to donating your money, time and resources.

If you are interested in organizing your own fundraising learn more on how to fundraise online which will allow you not only to give out of your own pocket but also to equip others to give while creating buzz for worhty causes.

 

 

 

Grammarly grammar checker the most widely used grammar tool is a proud sponsor of www.wideawake.org

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I have already made many posts about taxes on this blog. The most stunning point to me in those posts is that the rich pay less taxes than the working class in terms of percentage of income–at least in the USA.

I didn’t want to make yet another post about taxes on a blog that is supposed to be about poverty, but I read an article this morning that got my blood boiling. In part, the Buffalo News Editorial says:

Congressional Republicans, who seem to have sworn some kind of blood oath to the preposterously unfair Bush tax cuts–regardless of the damage they do to the economy–now want to eliminate the reduction of the payroll tax they helped to enact last year. The reduction in payroll taxes, while it puts additional stress on Social Security, which it funds, is of greatest benefit to the middle class and working poor.

That’s because it’s a “regressive” tax, taking the same percentage of everyone’s pay, regardless of income level. The amount of income subject to the tax is also capped, meaning a portion of the income of higher earners—sometimes a very large portion—goes untaxed.

In other words, these politicians want to keep the regressive tax system we already have but also make it even more regressive! This is done by simultaneously lowering taxes disproportionately for the rich while increasing government spending and disproportionately increasing taxes on the working poor and middle class.

I understand the psychological complications of a two-party pseudo-democratic system that enable politicians from both parties to get away with a lot of selling out the many to the wealthy special interest few, but I am still surprised these politicians who openly try to make a regressive tax system even more regressive are not overtaken and tarred and feathered or some such by a stampede of angry masses fighting not only for what they think is fair but for what is clearly in their own self-interest. Maybe what gets my blood boiling with this issue is not so much the politicians who I personally have been long convinced are all—that includes both parties—special interest bought self serving liars. Rather what really gets my blood boiling about this kind of issue may be that the masses of people who have the real power in terms both of sheer numbers and productive ability just let themselves get so blatantly exploited.

What do you think? Please comment on this post, comment on any other posts about taxation or discuss the relationship between poverty and taxation in this thread about taxation and poverty in the forums.

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trust and create

Since there are hundreds of charities and non-profit organizations seeking your hard-earned money, choosing the ideal recipient for your donation demands research.

However, a little scrutiny can lead to discovering groups that are supporting causes most important to you, and ones that will use your money most effectively.

By following the below tips you will be able to find the right place for you to donate.

Donate to Familiar Groups

One Man's Trash is Another Man's Treasure

Whether it is a local church group or an international body, the safest way to properly donate your money is to give to organizations that you are most familiar with.

That way you will have a confident grasp of their mission and how exactly they will utilize your donation.

Investigate Each Group’s Legitimacy

There is a wealth of resources available to research the validity and history of any charity. Potential donors can view a tally of all registered organizations through the Internal Revenue Service. Meanwhile, local state charities will be listed with the attorney general’s office.

There are also numerous services online that provide evaluations and even rankings of charities and organizations based on their performance.

Donate to Your Interests

Making a donation choice is easier when giving to a charity or non-profit that advocates causes relevant to your active interests. For example, if you love cars you may be happy to see your dollars going to a car charity institution, or if it’s the environment you love, consider donating to the Sierra Club.

Give Your Time First

How Red Hat democratized our corporate citizenship program

Acquiring the most information about a particular group can be done first hand by volunteering. Spending time working with a group will provide direct answers to what they actually do and how well they do it. 

Be Certain which Charity You’re Dealing with

The unfortunate reality is that there are many scammers in the world, even in the realm of charitable groups. Dishonest organizations will use nearly identical names of other well-known groups or lie about their missions in an effort to collect donations.

Inquire about Tax-Deductable Donations

Not all gifts are tax-deductible. Generally, only donations given to organizations that are registered charities can be deducted, so ask before handing over that check.

Follow Your Money

Please donate to the British Museum

The best-run organizations operate with a sense of transparency. Donors and members should have access to annual reports that detail where the group’s funds were allocated and projections of future programs.

Protect Your Money

Like any monetary transaction, personal information such as your credit card number should never be provided via email or over the phone. Avoid donating with cash; instead, try to donate by sending a check directly to the group’s main offices.

Think Small

Large organizations like hospitals and universities have a wealth of funds and resources, which is why they are so good at soliciting for your money. While both give much to their communities, smaller organizations may be struggling just to stay afloat and so are in greater need of your donation.

Donating money to a good cause is easy, but it helps to do a little homework to ensure that your dollars are used to their fullest. So what group do you want most to have your donation?

Jessy is a frugal and family blogger for www.CreditCardFinder.com.au, the free tool to compare credit cards online. Learn about charity credit cards (as well as other types of credit cards) here.

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Children suffering from Poverty