Fiscal cliff could influence charity donations


It's possible the tax deduction for charitable giving could be capped next year. So the question becomes do you hold on to your money during the financial uncertainty or donate more while you know you're going to get a deduction? For one charity in San Francisco, it seems people are doing a little of both.

The food pantry at the St. Anthony Foundation in San Francisco is in good shape, but overall, donations are down for the year.

"We are a little bit behind where we would like to be, where we have budgeted to be," said St. Anthony's interim executive director Barry Stenger.

Stenger says the charity is seeing interesting trends this holiday season that may have to do with the impending fiscal cliff.

"We're seeing people who have never given us a stock donation before stepping up and making that kind of gift to us," said Stenger.

They could be concerned that the tax deduction for charitable giving would be cut next year, saving the government money.

Private wealth advisor George Papadoyannis says it can make sense to get more bang for your donation buck. That would help charities this year, but people may be less generous in years to come.

"People who would like to donate some this year and potentially some next year, may try to double up and donate more this year," said Papadoyannis.

But the uncertain financial future is also causing fear.

"Many people are afraid to make any move, so there's paralysis because if you don't know what's coming, you try to stay as liquid as you can, you try to hold onto what you have, and you're not as willing to donate or spend in general," said Papadoyannis.

St. Anthony's is seeing this as well.

"Some of the people who traditionally have given us end of year stock donations, we're seeing about half of those coming through," said Stenger.

But St. Anthony's is optimistic their donors will come through by the New Year.

"Their donations really seem to come from the heart, out of a real sense of compassion," said Stenger.

Papadoyannis agrees, he says some very wealthy people may donate less if it benefits them less, but he thinks overall, people donate because they want to help. The tax deduction is a bonus.

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