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Phil Rizzo: Take a role in philanthropy

Giving

Posted: January 27, 2009 9:15 p.m.
Updated: January 28, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
If ever there was a time for all of us to participate in philanthropy, this is it.

What better way to support President Obama's call for individual sacrifice, personal responsibility and acknowledgement of the pain others may be suffering?

There's a lot of need out there. You do not have to be rich to give.

The best approach is to employ your intuition. What is it that moves you, that hits your heart?

My wife and I favor the rifle-shot over the shotgun approach when we give, but we do some of both.

This is what I call "rifle shot giving." The saying is that charity, philanthropy, begins at home. Start with your immediate family.

Are any of your grown kids hurting? One of them may have lost his or her job or is buried in medical bills without insurance. And that son or daughter may be too proud to ask.

Consider sending a few bucks a month until that child is through the dark time. Or you might think about giving them all or part of what you plan to leave to them at your demise.

It might be of more value to them now then later, when they may accumulate some wealth.

This kind of giving might not allow for a tax deduction, as the giving to a nonprofit charity does. However, there are legal ways to transfer money to your children and others that may allow a tax deduction. Check with your tax adviser.

There are charities that put you in direct touch with individuals, usually children, who need help. This is a combination of the "rifle" and the "shotgun" approaches inasmuch as you are specifically assigned an individual but give your money to a charitable organization.

One such organization is World Vision.

Next, think about your friends. Do you really care what their politics or religions are before you help them or anyone? Getting past that is part of what the change we crave is about.

If they have fallen on hard times, they could use your help. Some of those who thought of themselves as "well off" may have fallen far because of issues with jobs and housing.

Or maybe they are being strangled with medical bills. The foreclosure signs planted in Santa Clarita and surrounding communities tell a lot.

Some of those people who had good incomes thought the value of their homes would go up, up, and up, and they could refinance or afford the higher payment inherent in the adjustable loan.

The shotgun approach is when you give to an intermediary such as your church, the Red Cross or Salvation Army.

They certainly need your support, too, so budget what you have to give. This kind of giving takes a more sophisticated approach inasmuch as you want to be sure that the income of the organization is not eaten up in administration fees, rather than doing good things with the money you send them.

Go to Google and search the words "examining charities." You'll find several sites there that deal with the question.

And if you want to give yourself a special kick, consider giving your gift anonymously.

Old gold jewelry may be worth a small fortune. Get it appraised by at least a couple of firms that buy gold. It's not doing much good stuck in a drawer. The rainy day may be here for someone, and you can be an umbrella.

Seniors get all kinds of discounts, from restaurants to the movies, partly because they are seen as unable to afford full price. But while on one hand many seniors live on fixed incomes, seniors are also holders of a large segment of the nation's wealth.

It makes sense. They've had time to accumulate it. Many seniors may be in the best financial situation to be philanthropic. As they say, you can't take it with you.

Volunteering is another way of giving. Check The Signal or go online to the city of Santa Clarita Volunteer Opportunities Web site.

There are many organizations looking for the gift of your time. The Food Pantry, the homeless shelter and Placerita Canyon Nature Center are just a few.

Some political groups formed during the election are continuing to be supporters of the president's programs. You may want to seek out a group that fits you. These groups will help you expand your ideas of how to respond to the critical needs of the community.

The cry out there is for bipartisanship, so you may want to cross the aisle and embrace those who may have a different view of things.

We are all in the same boat and it needs your oar in the water in order to make the change we all see as critical. This is a dark hour, but we are full of hope for a mutually beneficial outcome.

Being a philanthropist can be very personally rewarding; however, you choose to express it. Getting motivated by the president's call to sacrifice makes you part of a movement that is greater than yourself.

It is the power in that movement that will convert hope into action and make us all reach our collective objectives.

Phil Rizzo is a Santa Clarita Valley resident. "Full Speed to Port" appears Wednesdays in The Signal. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.

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