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Setting up for charity giving


rcolving
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I'd like to set up a donation box for a charity this year for my light show but concerned about the legal issues involved.  Can anyone give me an idea of how they set theirs up?

 

1. Do you need to register as an agent for the charity?

 

2. How do you secure the charity box? 

 

3. How do you prove the money goes to the charity?

 

That's just to start,

 

Do you declare this to IRS. Do you include some of expenses on taxes as charitable contributions?

 

Anyone who's done this or is doing this, a little guidance would be appreciated!

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1. Didn't register

 

2. Just cleaned the box out every night

 

3. SPCA gave me tax reciept for the cash portion of the donations, there's your proof the donations made it to the organization you collected for.

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If you are raising for a large charity, it probably is a good idea to at least make contact with them to let them know you will be doing a fundraiser for them. Some organizations have forms to fill out, others don't. Some organizations will help you by providing pamphlets or posters and maybe putting your event into their newsletter. One year, we did give part of our collection to a family with a child who had cancer. We did surprise them with that.

My box is bolted to posts and locked. Someone would need tools to get it out but I empty it each night anyway.

When I cash in all the money, I get a bank check made out to the charity. I have the receipt from that as proof. My charity also sends me a thank-you letter with the dollar amount on it and that serves as proof also.

I would declare the contribution but in my financial situation, I am better off using the standard deduction and not itemizing.

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We've given 100% of our donation proceeds to our local food shelf ever since we started in 2008.  I'm from the KISS school of thought.
 
1.  Can't answer - don't know.  We've never gone that route and no one has ever mentioned it
 
2.  I've planted a wooden post which holds both our information mailbox and the donation box.  The donation box is secured to the post by some long wood screws, and locked.  The post is secured into the ground by the freezing process.  The site is lighted throughout the show hours and emptied immediately after (or even during) the shutdown sequence.  There's rarely a time without multiple vehicles out front serving as our eyes and ears, and I've worked with our patrol deputies to have them slowly drive by as close to our shutdown times as they can.  We've never had even a sniff of a problem security wise.  YMMV - Iowa is a pretty strange place.  ;)
 
3.  We've never had to prove anything to anyone.  Our word is our bond.
 
We've never involved the IRS in any way.  We neither claim any income, nor do we claim any deductions.  All we do is provide a site for the food shelf donation box - nothing more, nothing less.  We levy no "tax" on the contributions.  When we say we donate 100% of the receipts to the charity, that's exactly what we mean and exactly what we do.  There are some people who use donations to help pay for their display.  Personally, I find this disgusting and abhorrent.  IMO if someone can't afford to do their display, they shouldn't be doing one.

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Same basic setup/principles as George, although we do contact the charity to let them know what we're doing before the beginning of show season.

And why is it that I think the shot at Iowa was directed at me? :)

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As a CPA, I agree with this statement.  The claim is that you are collecting FOR the organization, not for yourself then subsequently donating the proceeds to the organization.  You would not be entitled to the tax deduction unless you clearly stated that any money you collect goes to you and not the organization.

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Agree with all posts above.  I have "advertised" that ALL cash and food donations go to our local town's food pantry.  They are tickled pink that we have raised what we have for the town.  I too do not claim anything as like stated above, its not my money to claim....

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  • 2 weeks later...

Iowa was not a shot at you Mr. Aaron!  rcolving is an IA person too!   Surprised, at how many of us middle-of-nowhere people are Light-O-Rama freaks :lol:

 

This is my first year, so I too needed the same type of info, and found it very helpful.  I am simply putting a lock box on my mailbox post, and having a flyer to explain the details available at that post.  I will be contacting the charity before hand, and they too will probably help promote the address.  They do a monthly TV interview with the news stations in town, so maybe I will get lucky and get the address mentioned!  Who knows, maybe by telling the charity, they will help tell people about your address/display!    It wont be claimed on the 'simple form' taxes either!  It is just an expensive hobby, so I couldn't claim it!

 

I will adjust one of my security cameras to include the mailbox area, and do a test to see if the night vision thing will work with flickering lights... :unsure:  - Motion detection and Night vision works, but have not tested it against the lights yet!  That might make that camera run from show start-til-stop, so I will see if I can set motion sensors to only come on with PEOPLE, not lights...My guess posting quick a movie of kids dancing in the driveway won't hurt the donation business!  :D
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Iowa was not a shot at you Mr. Aaron!  rcolving is an IA person too!   Surprised, at how many of us middle-of-nowhere people are Light-O-Rama freaks :lol:

There are more of us than I realized. :) I was actually just accusing George of giving me a hard time. It's all in good fun.

Welcome to the world of craziness. This will be my 4th year. 3 years ago, I'd have never believed our show would be what it is. Good luck to you. Wish we were closer to you so I could come check things out. If you're ever in the Cedar Rapids area, look me up.

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... I was actually just accusing George of giving me a hard time. It's all in good fun...

Plus, it didn't even have to be me. There's others from MN here as well.

Minnesota certainly isn't a place to brag about, but at least we're up-wind and up-river from Iowa.  :P

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I thought that is what you guys are up too!  Just my way to say hi and you got another IA person to pick on!  been working on it for 2 years now, live on year 3...bit off more than i can chew!  And now I can't stop!  Ray Wu and I are almost on first name basis now...lol

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I'll be teaching on this exact topic at Christmas Expo in Biloxi, MS this year July 17-19, 2014.  The class name is "Dealing with the Media and Charities." Check out www.ChristmasExpo.com for more details.  Please email me at info@hitechlights.com and I'd be more than happy to email you my PowerPoint PDF from last year's Christmas Expo that I covered this as well.

 

---Michael

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