Community Foundation Awards Sustainability Grant to Write On Door County

The Door County Community Foundation has awarded Write On Door County a Sustainability Grant from the Arts Fund. This grant supports the offering of intergenerational writing workshops that bring together young students and older adults with the purpose of learning more about each other and our community.

The intergenerational workshops are facilitated by local writers who provide guidance in writing fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Attendees are led through individual writing exercises as well as group activities. In addition to these workshops, Write On Door County offers a variety of classes throughout the year for youth and adults, from beginning writers to experienced professionals.

“Write On believes in the power of writing and sharing stories. The Community Foundation is pleased to support this collaborative initiative that brings together people of different ages and geographic areas to enhance understanding, consideration, and respect for one another and our community,” said Dick Egan, board secretary of the Door County Community Foundation.use 2015-06-12 10.42.52

Picture from the left: Dee Paulsen, board member of Write On Door County, Jerod Santek, Executive Director of Write On Door County and Dick Egan, board secretary of the Door County Community Foundation. 

The mission of Write On, Door County is to facilitate and promote writing in Door County by nurturing the work of writers, supporting readers and audiences, and developing opportunities that encourage broad participation. Located on nearly 40 acres of meadow, orchards, and woodlands in the heart of Door County, Write On provides a peaceful retreat for writers who need time to focus on their craft.

To volunteer or learn more about Write On Door County, please call (920) 868-1457 or visit, www.WriteOnDoorCounty.org.

The Door County Community Foundation’s Sustainability Grants program distributes grant dollars from funds such as the Arts Fund, Children & Youth Fund, Education Fund, Green Fund, Health & Human Needs Fund, Healthy Water Fund, Historic Preservation Fund, and the Women’s Fund.

For more information about the Community Foundation’s services and various grant programs, please visit www.GiveDoorCounty.org.

The Door County Community Foundation, Inc. is a collection of separate charitable funds set up by individuals, families, non-profit organizations, private foundations and businesses that are managed, invested and disbursed for the current and future good of Door County. The Foundation was launched in 1999 and currently administers nearly $16 million in charitable assets.

Community Foundation Awards Sustainability Grant to Open Door Bird Sanctuary

The Door County Community Foundation has awarded the Open Door Bird Sanctuary a Sustainability Grant from the Education Fund. This grant provides financial support to the Sanctuary to build a Bird Care Center. The Center will provide space for year-round educational programming and will also serve as a safe shelter in which to deliver rehabilitation services to injured birds.

Located in the heart of Door County, the Open Door Bird Sanctuary is a non-profit nature center devoted to wild bird education and rehabilitation. The mission of the Sanctuary is to raise avian awareness while inspiring people to coexist with the natural world that surrounds them. Open Door provides exciting and engaging programming, both on-site and at local outreach locations, to audiences of all ages and backgrounds.

“The dedication shown by the Sanctuary staff in caring for these magnificent birds is inspiring. The Door County Community Foundation is pleased to play a part in supporting this truly unique and up-close educational programming,” said Frank Maxwell, board member of the Door County Community Foundation.Pic from Open Door Bird

Picture from the left: Andrew Seefeldt, Raptor Volunteer, Frank Maxwell, board member of the Door County Community Foundation, Jillaine Burton, Vice President and General Manager of Open Door Bird Sanctuary, Amy Stich, Raptor Volunteer, and Rob Hults, Executive Director of Open Door Bird Sanctuary.

In addition to educational programming provided throughout Door County, the Sanctuary provides rehabilitation services as needed. When birds arrive at the Sanctuary for care, the goal of the Sanctuary is to rehabilitate and return as many native songbirds and birds of prey to their natural habitat as possible. For those birds unable to be released, however, the Sanctuary provides a safe and caring home in which the birds can share the mission as ambassadors for educational programming and environmental management.

To volunteer or learn more about the Open Door Bird Sanctuary, please call (920) 724-1399 or visit, www.OpenDoorBirdSanctuary.org

The Door County Community Foundation’s Sustainability Grants program distributes grant dollars from funds such as the Arts Fund, Children & Youth Fund, Education Fund, Green Fund, Health & Human Needs Fund, Healthy Water Fund, Historic Preservation Fund, and the Women’s Fund.

For more information about the Community Foundation’s services and various grant programs, please visit www.GiveDoorCounty.org.

The Door County Community Foundation, Inc. is a collection of separate charitable funds set up by individuals, families, non-profit organizations, private foundations and businesses that are managed, invested and disbursed for the current and future good of Door County. The Foundation was launched in 1999 and currently administers nearly $16 million in charitable assets.

A New Tool for Giving

It took nearly 10 years, four renewals of temporary laws, two budget crises, and one government shutdown, but eventually our friends in Washington finally came together to give our communities a powerful tool for charitable giving both today and in estate plans. On Dec. 18, new legislation was signed into law which restored and made permanent the Charitable IRA Rollover.

A traditional IRA has long been, and continues to be, one of the best assets to give to charity through your estate plans. When you place money in a traditional IRA during your lifetime, you avoid paying taxes on those deposits. Then as those IRA assets are invested and grow over your lifetime, you avoid paying taxes on that appreciation. But a traditional IRA isn’t a tax-free vehicle, it’s merely tax-deferred. You can’t avoid the taxes forever. Eventually the taxman cometh and will force you to confront the reality that is the IRS.

Most people will never pay any estate taxes because the first $5.45 million of your estate can be passed on to your heirs free of any estate tax. That $5.45 million exemption is for 2016 and increases every year. However, because a traditional IRA is a tax-deferred vehicle, you can normally count on Uncle Sam to impose some form of tax on the IRA that you’ve left to your heirs, regardless of how large or small your estate. Traditional IRAs, like most qualified retirement plans, are taxed as what the lawyers call Income in Respect of a Decedent (IRD). In other words, when a taxable IRA is inherited, the new beneficiary who subsequently takes withdrawals from the IRA will pay taxes on it, just as the IRA owner would have had he or she still been alive.

That’s why when it comes to estate planning, a traditional IRA is generally the first thing you want to give to charity and the last thing to leave to your heirs. Instead, better assets to leave to your loved ones is anything that is highly appreciated and gives your heirs a step-up in costs basis (what you originally paid for the investment) such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds held in your own name, or even real estate that has grown significantly in value. Even better, a Roth IRA (in which you paid the taxes up front and the subsequent growth occurs tax free) is a terrific asset to transfer to those you leave behind. Conversely, in your estate plans, taxable qualified retirement plans such as a traditional IRA are usually the first thing you want to give to your favorite charity because those organizations are generally exempt from taxation.

This has long been the case. What the new legislation changed was to restore and make permanent the so-called Charitable IRA Rollover so donors can now receive a tax benefit by making gifts to charity out of their traditional IRA during their lifetime. Now, anyone age 70½ or older can give up to $100,000 annually from their traditional IRA to charity completely tax and penalty free.

The typical person who will use this new tool is a senior who has “overfunded” their traditional IRA such that their required minimum distributions (RMD) provide more income than they need on an annual basis. You can now “rollover” up to $100,000 every year directly to the charities you love and exclude that amount from your gross income on your tax return. In other words, what would have otherwise been a taxable distribution paid directly to you is now a completely tax-free gift to charity.

As a further benefit, the IRS considers this a “qualified charitable distribution” which means that the amount you rolled over to charity counts toward your required minimum distribution for the year.

It’s easy to do. Just give the legal name, tax identification number, and mailing address for your favorite charity (or charities) to the custodian of your IRA. Many investment firms even allow you to download forms or submit the information online.

There are a few caveats to remember. Make sure the check is made out from your IRA directly payable to your selected charity. Do not make the check payable to you or you could find yourself having to declare it as income on your tax return. In addition, distributions to private foundations, supporting organizations, and donor advised funds do not qualify for the rollover. In those latter situations, you can still make the gift, but you’ll have to take the distribution, include it in your gross income, then claim the commensurate charitable deduction on your taxes. That equivalent income and deduction often results in a wash as far as taxes are concerned, but it’s not as elegant a solution as the Charitable IRA Rollover.

Of course, with any planned giving vehicle, you should seek the counsel of legal, tax, or investment advisors that are familiar with your individual situation. However, if you are 70½ or older and have a bit more than you need in your IRA, you might just find that the Charitable IRA Rollover is the right tool to give back in a most generous, and highly tax-efficient, way.

Bret Bicoy is president & CEO of the Door County Community Foundation. Contact him at the Community Foundation.

(This column originally appeared in the Peninsula Pulse.)

The Women’s Fund of Door County Story Slam – “Tales of Our Lives”

Please join the Women’s Fund of Door County for “Tales of Our Lives 2016” – A Story Slam. This year there will be performances on both Thursday, March 3rd and Friday, March 4th.

Tales Collage 02A Story Slam is more than just a storytelling event. It’s an invitation for people to share a few minutes of themselves in a room full of people who appreciate a well-told tale. These aren’t stories for children, but rather an honest description of real life events and how they made us into the people we are. The stories can range from the funny to the sad. From heartwarming to heart wrenching. But they are all authentic gifts from the story tellers as they share a bit about themselves with all of us.

Tales

Both men and women are encouraged to attend.

Reserve your place at this year’s event by printing out and returning the reservation form. Mail it to PO Box 802, Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235. Or email the form to kacie@givedoorcounty.org. There are no physical tickets, but by reserving your seat your name will be left at the door.

The Women’s Fund of Door County – when she thrives, we all prosper!

A Donor’s Horror Story

Imagine making a contribution of $25,000 to your favorite charity only to have the Internal Revenue Service disallow your tax deduction. This nonprofit horror story may sound absurd, but if you’re not careful, it could happen to you.

It starts with a nonprofit that you’ve been giving to for many years and know very well. It’s a legitimate 501(c)(3) public charity as recognized by the IRS. You know members of the board of directors and have met regularly with the professional staff. It truly is a great organization and unquestionably, your gift will do wonderful things for the charity and the community it serves.

Several years pass and you see the impact of your gift, and you couldn’t be more pleased. But during a routine audit of your taxes by the IRS, your $25,000 deduction is suddenly, and completely, disallowed.

You’re confused and don’t understand what you did wrong. This is a legitimate nonprofit organization. You did not receive anything in exchange for your gift. Everything about this gift and the charity involved was honest and appropriate. It turns out the IRS disallowed your gift because of the omission of a single sentence.

The receipt provided by the organization failed to state that you “did not receive any goods or services” in exchange for your contribution.

That’s it. That’s all it took. The failure of the charity to include a single sentence was sufficient for the IRS to disallow the deduction. Somewhere, really anywhere, on a receipt, thank you letter, or other acknowledgment of your gift, the charity needed to include that sentence. The charity can word it in a variety of different ways, but it needs to put into writing that that “you did not receive any goods or services in exchange for your contribution.”

These are the essential facts of the real life nonprofit horror story of David and Veronda Durden. In 2007, the Durdens made a contribution of nearly $25,000 to their nonprofit church and received an acknowledgment of their gift for tax purposes. This generous couple did not receive anything tangible or substantial in exchange for their gift, but the thank you letter from the charity did not explicitly say so. Thus the IRS disallowed the deduction.

There is some logic to the IRS’ position. Before you are allowed to claim a tax deduction, the government wants to be assured that your charitable gift was actually a gift, and not a payment. For example, the checks you write to a nonprofit preschool for your child’s tuition are not charitable gifts. You’re purchasing a service. The IRS needs to be able to differentiate between your payments to a nonprofit to obtain a good or service and charitable gifts for which you receive nothing substantial in return.

In the case of the Durdens, theirs was a legitimate charitable gift but their church failed to clearly state that no goods or services were provided. Of course, you would have thought that they could have simply corrected this problem by asking the organization to correct their omission. Indeed, that is exactly what the Durdens did in 2009, more than two years after they made their gift. The charity issued a second letter, this time including the key sentence that no goods or services were provided to the donors. Unfortunately, the IRS still disallowed the contribution.

The IRS says that “a donor claiming a deduction of $250 or more is also required to obtain and keep a contemporaneous written acknowledgment for a charitable contribution.” The key word is “contemporaneous.” The IRS says that “to be contemporaneous the written acknowledgment must generally be obtained by the donor no later than the date the donor files the return for the year the contribution is made.” (Both quotes are taken directly from the IRS website).

In practical terms, the IRS was saying that it was too late for the Durdens to obtain a new letter from the charity. The new 2009 acknowledgment letter correctly included the key sentence about “no goods or services” but it was not “contemporaneous” because it was obtained after their taxes were filed.

Needless to say, many thought this was absurd and thus the Durdens took the issue to tax court. After years of court battles, and to the dismay of the Durdens and donors everywhere, in Durden v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue Service the Court sided with the IRS. Clearly, the charity erred in its failure to include the “no goods or services” sentence, but the court affirmed that obligation to obtain the correct documentation before filing their taxes is on the Durdens, not the charity.

And so here we are. A couple makes a remarkably generous gift of $25,000 to a charity. The charity screws up and fails to put into writing that no goods or services were provided in exchange for that gift. As a result, the IRS disallows the tax deduction to which the donors should have been entitled. It’s every donor’s horror story.

So when you make a gift, remember that the IRS says that it’s your responsibility to obtain the necessary documentation to claim a tax deduction. Here’s what the IRS says you need as a donor:

  • For gifts of less than $250, you must have a bank record or written communication from a charity documenting the gift.
  • For gifts of $250 or more, you must obtain a contemporaneous written acknowledgment (a thank you letter, receipt, or other acknowledgment letter) from the charity stating what was contributed.
  • If nothing substantial was provided to you in return for your gift, the acknowledgment must say so in writing, something to the effect of “no goods or services were provided in exchange for your contribution.”
  • If you received something substantial in return for your gift, such as when you purchase tickets for a golf fundraising event, the acknowledgment letter should value those services and state something like “you received lunch and a round of golf valued at $75 in exchange for your contribution of $250.”

For more information, visit the IRS website and to download IRS Publication 1771, Charitable Contributions – Substantiation and Disclosure Requirements. Don’t let a nonprofit horror story happen to you.

Bret Bicoy is president & CEO of the Door County Community Foundation. Contact him at the Community Foundation.

(This column originally appeared in the Peninsula Pulse.)

Margaret Lockwood Featured in Winter Exhibition

The community is invited to attend a reception on Saturday, January 23rd from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Door County Community Foundation to open its Lobby Gallery Winter Exhibition featuring works by artist Margaret Lockwood. The Community Foundation is located at 342 Louisiana Street in Sturgeon Bay across from the Post Office.

Lockwood 01Margaret has a constant desire to paint canvases that create the feeling of space. Her tools are color relationships, layers of atmosphere, and rhythmic interludes. Margaret says, “I want each work to gently welcome viewers into a peaceful place within the painting and within themselves. My work sometimes begins with looking at the surrounding landscape or often begins as a conversation with the painting before it.” No matter how they are started, the real work comes in the doing, while she is in the middle of it all. Margaret is required to have trust in the unknown and yet-to-be, remaining open to change and chance along the way, but also to direct the creation.

In Door County, Margaret lived in the woods and then in a farmhouse with open fields all around. Her work is overwhelmingly a response to her appreciation of the fragile beauty of those remembered trees and the peacefulness of fleeting light and color across the fields and in the clouds above.

Lockwood 02Margaret shares, “I respond to the atmosphere and the private spaces and moments still to be found in our environment and daily lives as we have entered the 21st century. I am concerned with the layers of connection between our external world and that of our inner worlds, and how we relate to and are informed by our precious environment, each other, as well as our hopes and memories. I want to make visible the mysterious atmosphere of landscapes and spaces within us, our spiritual homes.”

“Each of us is alone ultimately. Understanding this solitude may bring feelings of sadness, but knowing that this is common to all of us can be profoundly reassuring. We can feel connected to our world if we notice. We can feel connected to those who are with us now, along with those who came before and those who are yet to be, if we care,” says Margaret. She hopes there are some who can feel this mysterious yearning mixed with wonder in her work.

The Community Foundation’s reception is being coordinated with the “You Draw & Paint on What?” exhibit at the Miller Art Museum that same evening. The exhibition will feature works of 12 Wisconsin artists who draw and paint with traditional and non-traditional media in new and surprising ways. Guests are encouraged to visit Sturgeon Bay and drop by both the Miller Art Museum and the Community Foundation Lobby Gallery opening receptions.

Refreshments will be served at the Door County Community Foundation by Morag Hornsby and her team at Serves You Right Catering.

Each quarter, different Door County artists will be invited to exhibit their work. The Gallery is normally open to the public during the Community Foundation’s regular hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Grant Awarded to Door County Medical Center Foundation

The Door County Community Foundation has awarded the Door County Medical Center Foundation a Sustainability Grant from the Health and Human Needs Fund. This grant provides financial support for further development of the Ministry Memory Clinic.

The Ministry Memory Clinic Door County (MMCDC) was established in 2011 with assistance from the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Institute and the support of Ministry Health Care. Its mission is to provide a center of excellence in the early diagnosis and treatment of dementia. It serves as a diagnostic service for patients with memory impairment and a resource of information and care management for families dealing with dementia.

2015-04-13 09.49.47“The Door County Community Foundation is committed to supporting the aging population of Door County through this grant to the Memory Clinic,” said Mike Felhofer, board member of the Door County Community Foundation.

The major outcomes desired from the Ministry Memory Clinic are threefold:  1)Accurate diagnosis of specific dementia through a comprehensive approach, 2)Improved accessibility to dementia-specific diagnosis and care 3)Improved access to  caregiver education and support.

The Door County Medical Center Foundation was created to develop and manage giving opportunities that support the health care needs of the community.  Since its inception in 1988, the Foundation has provided fundraising and grant writing support to the Ministry Door County Medical Center that has helped to create programs, provide health care related scholarship opportunities, update technology, construct new state of the art facilities, create endowment funds and provide hospital wide volunteer opportunities.

For more information about the Door County Medical Center Foundation, please call (920) 746-1071.

The Door County Community Foundation’s Sustainability Grants program distributes grant dollars from funds such as the Arts Fund, Children & Youth Fund, Green Fund, Health & Human Needs Fund, Education Fund, Historic Preservation Fund, Healthy Water Fund, and the Women’s Fund.

For more information about the Community Foundation’s services and various grant programs, please visit our website.