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Dear Panorama Residents,
In times of immense strain and crisis, our truest colors often show through. As the entire world faces the unprecedented impact of the coronavirus pandemic, we can see moments of brightness during a fog of immense uncertainty. Over the last several weeks, an increasing number of residents have been reaching out asking for advice of how (and where) they can give effectively during this time – a true testament to the generosity of this community.
The passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act has increased the number of questions coming my way. An overwhelming number of you have reached out, expressing a desire to use your unexpected/unneeded stimulus check to support others in need. Many have asked about how to support our staff, local non-profits and restaurant workers. I’ve also received questions about the provisions related to charitable giving included in the CARES Act. To that end, I’m sharing some tips below that I hope you’ll find helpful.
GIVING OPPORTUNITIES AT PANORAMA
We are grateful for the significant number of residents who are reaching out asking how they can use their unexpected stimulus to help members of the Panorama staff experiencing financial hardship due to the coronavirus. While Panorama staff members are all considered essential and continue to work, we understand many employees are still experiencing financial strain or uncertainty as partners lose the ability to work due to the virus and/or are struggling to manage unexpected childcare costs due to schools being closed. We suspect this will grow over time as we begin to feel the fall-out of shutting down commerce.
In this regard, we are relying on our previously established Joseph J. DiSanto Employee Assistance Fund, to meet such needs. In order to ensure this fund has the means to continue to support our staff through this time and beyond, we are welcoming donations to this fund. Donations to this fund can be made to Panorama through the Office of Philanthropy. Contact me by email at Meghan.Vu@panorama.org or x7545 for more information.
Additionally, I encourage increased financial support of the Panorama Benevolent Fund. As its typical revenue streams are greatly impacted as a result of the cancellation of the 2020 Patio Sale and the loss of monthly revenue from the Stiles-Beach Barn and Encore Furniture & Books, the need for the Benevolent Fund persists. Its mission provides a sense of security for us all, particularly in times like the present. Moreover, many of you have shared how vital the work of the Social Service Advisors, whose salaries are funded by the Benevolent Fund, has been during this time. Donations can be made online at https://panoramabenevolentfund.org/donate/ or by contacting Connie by email at PBF-Secretary@Panorama.org or x7556
GIVING OPPORTUNITIES IN THURSTON COUNTY
In a great show of community collaboration, the Community Foundation of South Puget Sound and United Way of Thurston County (UWTC) have joined forces to establish the Thurston County COVID-19 Response Fund. Together, UWTC and the Community Foundation are identifying emerging needs, as well as gaps in existing services, and working to rapidly mobilize and deploy resources to the people who are most vulnerable to the economic impacts of COVID-19 in Thurston County. The first round of funding from the COVID-19 response fund included support for organizations serving seniors and children – responding to increased demand for home delivered meals and childcare due to schools being closed. More rounds of funding will be coming soon. Donations can be made here: https://securepayment.link/unitedwayofthurstoncounty/.
The Thurston County Food Bank is also a great local organization to support. No doubt our community will need the Food Bank more than ever during this time. As the need for emergency food grows, and food drives are not taking place, the need for financial support will be even greater. Donations can be made here: https://us.commitchange.com/nonprofits/13/donate.
Finally, in response to a number of questions related to supporting local restaurant workers - A local family foundation, The Anonymously Yours Foundation, has established the Washington State Restaurant Employee Relief Fund to support restaurant employees out of work due to this public health crisis. You can learn more about this fund here: https://anonymously-yours.org/wa-restaurant-fund/.
GIVING IS PERSONAL
I could easily fill several pages with important organizations addressing new and existing needs in our community and beyond. The organizations I listed above are a good starting point for those interested in supporting our local community. Most importantly, I encourage you to align your support during this time to the organizations and causes to which you have always been a passionate supporter. The impact of COVID-19 will have far-reaching effects on all non-profits in our community, particularly those serving the most vulnerable. The needs for their services will increase and the majority of non-profits will experience a decrease in their fundraising as in-person events are being cancelled (for many non-profits, fundraising events make up a significant portion of their fundraising budget) and the ability of major donors to give big is diminished by losses in the stock market. I encourage you to think about your favorite non-profits and about your ability to give more during this time. Did you plan to attend a fundraising event that had to be cancelled? Consider sending the donation you planned to make anyway.
THE CARES ACT AND CHARITABLE GIVING
Among the over 100 provisions of the CARES Act, two are directly related to charitable giving. The goal of these incentives is to encourage giving to non-profits to enable them to meet the increased demands for their services and ensure that they have the needed resources to continue to serve the public.
The first is an above-the-line deduction against gross income on the amount of $300 for cash charitable contributions made in 2020 by filers taking the standard deduction (non-itemizers). Since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has eliminated the deductibility of charitable giving for past itemizers now taking the standard deduction, this is welcomed news! Although the tax relief is modest, it is a dollar-for-dollar reduction against gross income.
The second is the temporary suspension of the AGI limitation for cash charitable contributions to public charities (with a specific ineligibility to donor-advised funds or 509(a)(3) organizations). It is theoretically possible for charitable giving to erase Federal income tax liability for 2020.
In closing, thank you so much for your care and concern. Our community is indeed a special place. Please know, I am always happy to answer additional questions you may have – it is a highlight of my work to be a helpful resource in charitable giving!
Director of Philanthropy