This reader's comments stirred up a bee hive. This response is typical:
Your reader who is worried that "organizations are going to be killed under Obama's plan" may want to ask him or herself what it is reasonable for nonprofits to expect under these dismal economic conditions, regardless of what the government does.
The implicit argument seems to be that everything would be hunky-dory if the country weren't going to go back to mid-90s tax rates. I wish we could hear from donors who lived in a parallel universe where the economy was just as bad, but their taxes weren't going up. I suspect we'd see the same outcome, with slightly different reasoning.
Another reader adds:
It is astonishing that big donors exist whose current decisions and deepest concerns are possible tax changes that may occur in 2011 but are apparently unaffected/oblivious to the economic free fall that has occurred in this country in the last six months.
If this is indeed their concern, good tax advice would be to increase your charitable donations in the next two years, while you still enjoy maximum tax benefits.
Fact is, all charities are effected by this economic mess in reduced in contributions and collapse of their investment portfolios. When people cut back, it is to be expected that arts charities will be more severely impacted than those who provide safety net services to those who are just trying to eat and sleep in a warm place.
As small, but consistent donors to non-profits, my husband and I were not impressed by the email from the worker at the arts non-profit in Illinois. Yes, non-profits all over the country will be hit hard. It's happening in own community and this year we've increased our charitable donations to include a food program, a women's shelter and a women's music program. We are not able to make large donations, but they will be monthly and we will be faithful. As I read your reader's comments, I found my brain humming the Christian tune I learned in church, "They will know we are Christians by our love." Perhaps these big donors really are frightened. Perhaps they have had huge losses in the stock market. Perhaps there has been a job loss in the family. It's also possible that they are supporting multiple non-profits (as we are) to feed, shelter, clothe and to care for the sick. The arts are very important, but they must come after the four areas I just mentioned.
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