Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Taxes Question

I have a "what would you do" question and I need some good advice within the next 10 days.

When we went on vacation this year, we'd been warned in advance about beggars in India.  And we'd been warned that in particular, there are lots of children begging. 

We know enough about that cycle to know that you should never give money to children, so we knew we would avoid doing that.  And we decided we'd do the same thing if we were asked for money by adults.  Our strategy for children and adults who were begging:  say no respectfully, meeting the person's eyes.  And when we got home, we would pick two charities working in India to make donations to.  To help end the cycle of poverty and need. 

As an aside, we actually encountered far fewer people begging than we expected.  And pretty much none aside from at the train stations once we got off the main tourist loop of Delhi-Agra-Jaipur in the north.  But even without having people ask for money, and even with people largely seeming so content and friendly, it was obvious that there is a lot of poverty and need, so we think giving year-end donations is very important to us this year. 

So now it's nearly year end and I've done some research into charities that look like good options.  And now I'm reconsidering my plan, so I need help.

I found 2 perfect charities that look amazing -- one works with children in a city in the north that we visited that seemed to have a lot of need (Jaipur) and one that works in a city in the south that we loved (Goa) that has a particular home they're helping.  So easy, peasy, right?  Just give donations to each of them and it's done.

But in addition to thinking about taxes this time of year, I'm also looking at some of the things we bought in India to give as Christmas gifts to people and I'm remembering how cheap they were compared to what we'd have paid here.  I'm thinking about how a little money can go so far in India.

The company I work for matches donations to 501(c)(3) organizations as long as the donations are big enough.  I can't remember if the threshold per organization is $100 or $250.  Either way, we would be meeting the threshold with our donations to each, so my company will double the donation, and we can help out twice as much. 

But my company match applies only charities with the 501(c)(3) status. 

The charity we found in Jaipur is based in India and the one in Goa is based in the UK.  So we could donate to each of them and that would be it.  Or we could try to pick 2 charities here in the US that work in India and donate the same amount to each of them, and then my company will match it so they'd actually get twice the money. 

I've found a couple 501(c)(3)s that are working on projects in India that seem important but the options for designating money for a specific project means that we would be choosing to support an important project in an area of the country that we didn't visit.  Somewhere I'm sure there is need, but we have no real connection to that city or project. 

What would you do?  Doubly large donations to charities doing important work in places in India that we didn't visit?  Or donations not doubled to overseas charities doing important work in places in India that we feel very connected to? 


  1. While being able to have the company match the donation, I would personally want to donate to an area where I have more of a connection.

  2. i'm with amanda (travel girl)...i'd go with the one that you have the connection with.

  3. I agree with the others. I would also wonder whether there is more admin overhead in the US-based orgs since they are not based in India. I think it's great that you and your husband are doing this.

  4. I support everything that all the others said, and am always concerned with how much (little) gets to the people in need. But with that said, the power of matching gifts definitely has allure to me, as Corning is really good with that and expanded it this year and has a big impact on where I give ... so I try to manage all three (1) connection, (2) maximized real impact and (3) matching :)