OUR OPINION: Charitable giving’s profile rises in December activity

By NEMS Daily Journal

Many of Northeast Mississippi’s local and regionally based charities and non-profits await every December’s arrival, knowing that an anticipated surge of individual philanthropy sometimes closes the margin in a tight budget year or provides encouraging support for new projects not fully funded.
The season’s giving is important at every level.
Two regional non-profits especially illustrate the importance of individual giving for the non-profits specifically focused on our area of the state.
• The United Way of Northeast Mississippi has a national affiliation, but the focus is on partner agencies in its counties’ service areas.
The 2012-2013 campaign stands at 96 percent of goal as of Monday, Executive Director Melinda Tidwell said.
December giving almost certainly will help reach or exceed the $2.3 million goal, which has been buoyed in 2012 by Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi’s first campaign and a record pledge from North Mississippi Health Services.
Tidwell said Toyota had pledged more than $80,000; NMHS has committed more than $600,000 – a fourth of the campaign goal.
While encouraged by that level, Tidwell was quick to note that giving would have been higher had some long-time participants had the same levels of employment as in past years.
• Another high-profile non-profit, Sanctuary Hospice House, also makes a strong case for the importance of individual philanthropy. Sanctuary, dedicated exclusively to palliative care for the terminally ill, paid for an eight-bed addition, opened this year, with $1 million in designated gifts. In addition, more than $1 million of Sanctuary’s $6 million annual budget is based on philanthropy. The rest comes from Medicaid, Medicare and private-sector insurance coverage; no patient is charged.
Executive Director Linda Gholston said sustained giving is essential because declines in Medicaid and Medicare payments of 2 percent will require $75,000 in funds from other sources in 2013.
The Tupelo-based CREATE Foundation offers free administrative services and donor-advised funds for individual gifts, short and long-term, for all eligible charities.
CREATE Foundation President Mike Claiborne said a donor advised fund offers immediate tax deductibility with the flexibility of later making more specific gifts. Call CREATE (662) 844-8989 for answers to all donor questions.