If you’re doing end-of-year accounting and tax planning and trying to find a way around the new Obamacare taxes, perhaps a charitable donation is in order (though when you add the Obamacare taxes to the Alternative Minimum Tax, it is probably unclear to anyone other than KPMG partners what the actual savings from charitable donations might be). One of my personal rules about charity is that I avoid donating to organizations whose employees earn more than I do. I check the Form 990 using Guidestar.org to learn about the compensation of the best paid employees. (Side note: I designed the Oracle data model for an early version of the site and then loaded a huge data set from the IRS into Oracle. To see whether hundreds of thousands of organizations had loaded properly I did a few queries. Harvard quickly popped out as the richest non-profit organization in the U.S.! Side note 2: This doesn’t mean that I think the work of a non-profit where the CEO earns $1 million is unworthy, only that I think the donations for that non-profit would more logically come from hedge fund managers, investment bankers, et al.)
One 501c3 group that readily meets the above standard is Kids on Computers. It is an all-volunteer organization currently led by Avni Khatri (firstname.lastname@example.org). Because nobody draws a salary, 100 percent of donations go to fund operations. (I wrote about them back in July 2013 seeking laptops.) What kind of folks in this day and age actually need any introduction to the digital world? Avni just came back from setting up a lab in India and the school was a two-hour drive from the nearest hotel with flush toilets.
Here are the bragging rights possible:
- $25,000 will fund a local employee to work for three years on a part-time basis visiting and maintaining labs in one of the countries served (Mexico, Nepal, Argentina, India; your choice). You’ll get credit with a blog posting.
- $10,000 will fund a new computer lab, to be named after the person of your choice. You’ll get credit with a blog posting and permanent credit on http://www.kidsoncomputers.org/labs
- $1,500 will fund a volunteer’s travel expenses to go to Mexico for two weeks to maintain the computers in up to eight labs and provide continuing education for the teachers and the students associated with those labs. You’ll get credit with a blog posting.
- $250 will buy one computer (you get a photo emailed to you of a student using your computer; label attached to computer with “Donated by YOUR NAME” or “Donated in honor of YOUR CHOICE”)
- $120 will buy shipping for four laptops to an international location. Laptops are shipped in USPS Medium Flat Rate boxes, each of which holds two laptops.
- $35 provides one child access to a computer, educational software, and internet (where accessible).
[For the last two, add your own bragging rights by commenting on this posting saying why you wanted to help these kids.]
You can skip out on Obama’s new tax on capital gains by giving appreciated stock or mutual fund shares directly to the 501c3. The Vanguard form is a good example of how to do it.
Avni is also looking for computer-skilled volunteers who speak Spanish fluently to travel to Mexico for a two-week period and help with the labs. Mostly the kids are learning the basics of using a file system, editing and saving documents using Open Office, watching Khan Academy videos and using offline Wikipedia. So you don’t have to be a wizard programmer to contribute.
If you’re interested in volunteering for the Mexico trip, please send me an email with your qualifications. I will pony up the $1500 to send you to Mexico if you will agree to write a guest entry on my Weblog, complete with photos and a video (to be edited and uploaded by you to Youtube!).