It’s the third day of my 12 Days of Charitable Giving for 2018. Readers have suggested deserving charities over the past few weeks, and I’ll be posting one a day for—well, 12 days (I’m clever that way). Today’s charity is First Book.
First Book (Washington, D.C.) is a nonprofit social enterprise that provides new books, learning materials and other essentials to children in need. Currently, more than half of U.S. public school students live in low-income households. And without adequate resources, children cannot learn: 79% of fourth graders from low-income households do not read proficiently.
Since its founding in 1992, First Book has distributed more than 175 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families.
The result? 82% of the First Book network report that without First Book their children would have few or no new books. And 87% report children’s increased interest in reading after receiving books from First Book.
(You can read the 2017 Impact Report, which downloads as a PDF.)
First Book has also attracted some celebrity notice. Los Angeles Rams All-Pro running back Todd Gurley will champion literacy for the National Football League’s My Cause My Cleats initiative by wearing custom-designed Nike cleats dedicated to reading during the Rams home game on December 16. The cleats feature First Book as well as Todd’s children’s book of choice, The Magician’s Hat, written by fellow NFL player Malcolm Mitchell.
So how can you help?
Order some pizza! Pizza fans can support childhood literacy at participating Pizza Hut stores. The limited-edition deal–The First Book Bundle–will include a $1 donation to First Book for every purchase. The deal is available until December 31 and includes two large three-topping pizzas and breadsticks, starting at $20.99. Find out more by clicking “First Book Bundle” here.
Of course, ordering pizza for dinner won’t result in a tax deduction since you received something of equal value (the pizza) for your cash, even if a charitable donation was made to the organization as a result. This is distinguishable, however, from campaigns at stores that ask you to make a specific dollar donation over and above your purchase.
To make a one-time or regular donation using a credit card, debit card or PayPal, you can click over to the website. Currently, thanks to the support of Penguin Random House, your impact will be doubled this holiday season: every $3 donated online or postmarked through December 31, 2018, will be matched with an in-kind donation of one book from Penguin Random House, up to 200,000 books. This match applies to all general, unrestricted gifts supporting First Book’s mission and national efforts. Every $3 helps provide two new books to a young reader.
Donations may also be sent by mail. Click on the “Download a print-and-mail form” form on the donation page for details.
For federal income tax purposes, if you plan to claim a deduction for a cash contribution, you’ll want to keep a record of the donation regardless of the amount. Ideally, the organization will provide a written record with the name of the charity, date and amount of the contribution.
First Book also accepts stocks and securities. Donating appreciated assets can result in a double benefit. Not only can you deduct the fair market value of the property (so long as you’ve owned it for at least one year), you will avoid paying capital gains tax on the appreciation. Normally, appreciated assets are subject to capital gains tax at disposition—whether by selling or gifting—but there’s an exception for donations to charitable organizations. For more information on how to donate appreciated assets to First Book, click over to their website.
Do your homework.
As always, you want to make sure that your donation is going to a qualified charitable organization. A search using the IRS’ new Exempt Organizations Select Check reveals that First Book is on the list.
I often suggest checking out third-party sites like Charity Navigator for more information about charitable organizations, including evaluations and access to tax forms and other financials. First Book has a four star rankingfrom Charity Navigator. The organization also earned the Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar, an online service that provides information about nonprofit organizations.
Remember: Submissions to the 12 Days of Charitable Giving are made by readers, and in most cases, I can’t personally vouch for the good work that these folks do. So be generous, but be smart: Do your homework.
For more on making charitable donations, click here.
Looking for more inspiration? Here are the other organizations on the 12 Days of Charitable Giving list this year: