Target your own economic stimulus package
As a result of the recently approved $168 billion economic stimulus package, most American families will get a tax rebate check in May. Economists and the news media have already begun to speculate about how we taxpayers will spend our rebate. Well, here’s an idea that none of them thought of. Call it your own stimulus package. Consider giving your tax rebate or a portion of it to a worthy human service organization. Personally, I’d like you to consider writing a check to a nonprofit that fights child abuse and neglect, however all human service organizations need and deserve your support, particularly now. They are on the front line coping with the human casualties of the current economic slump. In January, the Chronicle of Philanthropy published an article, “A Charitable Divide,” that outlined what it calls a growing fund-raising divide between wealthy organizations, like arts groups and universities, and other charities that provide direct social services to needy people. It explained that charities providing social services have traditionally lagged behind the private fund-raising achievements of institutions like hospitals, colleges and big-city ballet companies for one simple reason. Affluent donors overwhelmingly prefer to give to them. On the other hand, philanthropy research has found that households with annual incomes below $100,000 provide the largest percentage of all contributions to organizations that provide food, shelter and other basic necessities to needy people. The article points out that this second group is feeling the economic pinch more acutely now than the first, and the consequences of this are profound. The irony is that the human suffering resulting from the ballooning mortgage and foreclosure crisis, out-of-sight heating bills and other cost squeezes — the very impacts the economic stimulus package is designed to address — are being felt most acutely at front-line social service organizations, while at the same time the federal government is proposing to freeze human service budgets and the donors they traditionally count on are strapped. I’m not going bore you by debating the wisdom of the administration’s priorities because, in this instance, I don’t have to. As a taxpayer anticipating a windfall rebate check from my government, I have what may be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to put my own tax dollars where my priorities are. And I’m going to do that. I’ll be creating my own stimulus package by donating a healthy portion of my rebate check to an organization that is on the front line supporting families and fighting child abuse and neglect, an issue whose effects link directly to the health of our economy. I encourage you to do something similar. Give to an organization in your community that you trust. We list worthy family support organizations on our Web site, nhctf.org, or you can contact your local United Way organization for other human service charities if you need a suggestion. Karen H. Carpenter of Concord is the executive director of the New Hampshire Children’s Trust Fund.