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Innovincent
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Specializing in event planning & fundraising for non-profits & small businesses
Specializing in event planning & fundraising for non-profits & small businesses

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Scooter Race semi-final and championship heats from the 2017 scooter race at the 2017 Delaware Charity Challenge Winter Games.
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Have you heard about the Delaware Charity Challenge winter indoor triathlon?
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Harvey Rain / Snow Comparison https://buff.ly/2vtBxfb

Hurricane Harvey has produced incredible amounts of rain in Texas and Louisiana and other parts of the southwest. Particularly, parts of Houston have experienced incredible flooding. For those looking for local organizations to support, the New York Times has provided links to several local nonprofits serving this region. See Christina Caron, Where to Donate to Harvey Victims (and How to Avoid Scams) (New York Times, Aug. 28, 2017), available at https://buff.ly/2vtGc0A (last visited Aug. 30, 2017).

Matthew Cappucci wrote an interesting article to help illustrate the sheer volume of water that had fallen across Houston and Southeast Texas at the time, 9 trillion gallons (now 14 trillion gallons). See Matthew Cappucci, Texas flood disaster: Harvey has unloaded 9 trillion gallons of water (Washington Post, Aug. 27, 2017), available at https://buff.ly/2vtGYuo (last visited Aug. 30, 2017). One of the examples he gave to put a finer point on the perspective was this: "If we averaged this amount of water spread equally over the lower 48 states, that’s the equivalent of about 0.17 inches of rain — roughly the height of three pennies stacked atop each other — occupying every square inch of the contiguous United States. Imagine one downpour large enough to cover the entire country!" Id.

Here in Delaware and on the east coast, snow is more common than flooding (and fortunately we have not had too many instances of blizzards dropping 3' or 4' of snow over the past couple of years, although parts of New York and Boston have certainly had incredible snowfalls over the past few winters). So how much snow would 48" (4 feet) of rain be?

Generally speaking and under ideal snow conditions, 1 inch of rain is approximately 13 inches of snow. See National Severe Storms Laboratory, Frequently Asked Questions About Winter Weather, available at (last visited Aug. 30, 2017). As a straight conversion, if 1 inch of rain is 13 inches, then 48 inches of rain would be 624 inches, or 52 feet of snow. To illustrate the size of Houston (627 square miles) compared to Delaware (2491 square miles), this would be a lot of snow covering about half the state, including New Castle County and half of Kent County from Dover north. 

So we tweeted about this using the same graphic above along with a text box that effectively illustrated the point - 48" inches of rain in Houston would be the same as roughly 52 feet of snow covering this part of Delaware. 

As was pointed out (thank you to Matthew Cappucci), it is scientifically impossible to have this much snow, a principal called the Clausius–Clapeyron relationship, which a google search can explain far better and in far more depth than is necessary here. 

Adopting this analogy to make it more realistic, we can spread this snowfall out over a wider area. So 52 feet of snow over a 627 square mile area is the same as spreading 26 feet of snow over a 1,254 square mile area. It would be the same as spreading 13 feet of snow over a 2,508 square mile area, which put another way, 48" inches of rain would be like having 13 feet of snow fall over the entirety of the state of Delaware (2,491 square miles). 

Spread out even further (and somewhat more realistically), 48" rain in Houston (627 square miles), or 52 feet of snow over 627 square miles would be approximately equal to 6" snow over 65,000 square miles (65,208 to be exact). Put another way, 48" rain would be roughly the same as 6" of snow covering slightly less than the entirety of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey (roughly 69,000 square miles). 

The more visual way to understand the amount of rain that has fallen and impacted Houston and Southeastern Texas and parts of Louisiana is with snow in feet though. Since we have had snowstorms and blizzards more than once over the past few years that have dumped as much as 2-3 feet of snow in as many days (e.g., Feb. 2010 - back to back storms dumping more than 30" of snow across all three counties, Jan. 2016 - 1-2' throughout the state and more north, March 2017 - a foot or so here but far worse north of Delaware), people on the east coast (or us anyway), recognize and can appreciate how much 1 or 2 feet (or 3 feet of snow) is and how much inconvenience that causes, even if only for a few days. The flood and water will impact that part of our country for far longer. (See reference to local organizations that can help above).

To close out the point with three final illustrations:

48" rain in Houston is roughly the same as 52' snow over 627 square miles is roughly the same as 1' snow over 32,604 square miles (roughly illustrated on the map here).

Imagine a foot of snow covering this area (approximately 32,600 square miles)

48" rain in Houston is roughly the same as 52' snow over 627 square miles is roughly the same as 3' snow over 10,868 square miles, or about the same areas as the states of Delaware and New Jersey (…
Winter Weather FAQ
Winter Weather FAQ
nssl.noaa.gov
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Client Alert: Full Debate Begins on Delaware HB 240: Can a Compromise Amendment Save the Charitable Deduction From Being Thrown Out With the Bathwater?

Delaware Nonprofits and Supporters Should Remain Concerned and Voice Their Opinions to their State Legislators

Summary. The Delaware General Assembly continues to review legislation that, if passed, will significantly impact all Delaware nonprofits and houses of worship. Section 4 to House Bill 240, related to taxes on personal income ("Section 4 to HB 240"), eliminates itemized deductions, which will effectively exclude charitable deductions from being taken on individual state tax returns. Innovincent and others have previously summarized the main problems regarding Section 4 to HB 240 in its current form.[1] Following debate on Wednesday, June 21, the Delaware House Revenue & Finance Committee approved HB 240 by a 7-4 vote. It now moves to the House for full discussion.

While other parts of HB 240 and other related bills are beyond the scope of this alert, Innovincent believes that a carefully crafted amendment to HB 240 could effectively strike a balance between the budgetary issues otherwise encompassed by HB 240 and the charitable deduction issue in Section 4 to HB 240 that may unintentionally cripple the Delaware nonprofit sector. We offer for consideration a proposed amendment, as discussed below, to cap rather than eliminate itemized deductions, while excluding charitable contributions from that cap. The cap amendment may be a compromise way to generate revenue without risking the benefits of charitable contributions in the process.

Call to action. All nonprofits should continue to review Section 4 to HB 240 and determine how it will impact their operations and budget. Additionally, nonprofits should gather, summarize, and share the extent that they rely on individual contributions and how a 20% or higher decrease would impact them. Nonprofits and other interested members of the public should also continue to contact their legislators and voice their concern.

Summary of Proposed Amendment to Section 4 to HB 240. When it comes to the budget, difficult compromises are often made without complete deliberation and on expedited and compressed schedules. Here, HB 240 as currently drafted, appears to net approximately $100 million toward the closing the budgetary gap, with some unknown percentage (likely small) coming from the charitable deduction component implicit in the legislation. For the reasons previously discussed, the unintended consequences of totally eliminating itemized deductions in Delaware could wreak havoc on the State's nonprofit and charitable organizations and the philanthropic community on which they depend.[2] We doubt anyone in government would want to add $1 to the state revenue stream at a loss of $5 or more in donations to a nonprofit. Carving out a portion of the law to ensure that Delaware charitable organizations are not damaged in the process is necessary.

An amendment to reinstate itemized deductions, but place a cap on them, may be a compromise that could save the charitable deduction at the state level without sacrificing too much of the other potential budgetary gains. In reviewing other state's similar tax legislation and debate, the Vermont legislature struck a similar compromise, which is instructive for consideration. The proposal made herein is intended to offer a path forward and advance the debate. If taken, additional research into the extent of the overall budgetary impact will need to be done.

Proposed Amendment to Section 4 to HB 240. Innovincent proposes that nonprofits and other interested parties consider whether the following amendment could solve the issue. This proposal effectively tracks the comparable Vermont legislation enacted following their state legislature's debate on the same issue currently before the General Assembly:

This amendment provides a cap on total itemized deductions, limiting the total deduction allowed to be the higher of (a) the standard deduction or (b) 2.5 times the standard deduction plus any additional deductions for State and local income taxes, medical and dental expenses, or charitable contributions, as taken on the federal income tax return.

The budgetary impact of this proposal has not been researched.

Why Keeping the Charitable Deduction Matters. The nonprofit sector is important in Delaware. To put it in perspective, the state population is approximately 952,065[3] with a civilian labor force of approximately 476,800.[4] Of that work force, 11.6% of employment in Delaware is attributed to nonprofits,[5] or 55,309 people. There is no dispute that this small workforce (and their volunteers) impacts most of the rest of the State.

As previously discussed, $476.1 million of charitable giving was deducted in Delaware in 2012 (the most recent year for which federal income tax data is available).[6] Of the 119,840 taxpayers who itemized, 83% claime…
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Client Alert: Delaware HB 240: Draft Legislation Regarding Charitable Deduction to Impact Delaware Nonprofits

Client Alert: Delaware HB 240: Draft Legislation Regarding Charitable Deduction to Impact Delaware Nonprofits and Other Charitable Organizations

Delaware Nonprofits and Supporters Should Be Concerned and Voice Their Opinions to their State Legislators

Summary. The Delaware General Assembly is currently reviewing legislation that, if passed, will have a significant impact on all Delaware nonprofits and charitable organizations. As discussed herein, House Bill 240, related to taxes on personal income ("HB 240"), contains a provision (Section 4) to eliminate itemized deductions. This provision seeks to impact only those taxpayers who itemize their state returns, or about a third of the Delaware tax filer population. While this may have some positive effect on the state treasury, Delaware nonprofits and the communities they serve will be impacted adversely by this legislation. As such, Section 4 to HB 240 should not become law in its current form.

The elimination of the state charitable deduction in Section 4 to HB 240 will negatively impact individual charitable giving in Delaware. When comparing outcomes in other states that passed similar legislation, Section 4 to HB 240 could result in Delaware charitable organizations such as nonprofits and houses of worship collectively receiving anywhere from $30 million and $60 million less from individual donors in FY18 than FY17. Consequently, these groups will likely be forced to lean more heavily on the State in the future and reduce services to the communities and constituents they serve, offsetting any potential revenue gains since local governments will be forced to pick up the slack with their own funds and resources.

Call to action. All nonprofits should be aware of Section 4 to HB 240 and carefully review it to determine the extent it will impact their operations and budget. A copy of the most up-to-date version of legislation is available on Delaware's Legislative Tracking website. Nonprofits or their supporters who oppose or have any concerns with this legislation should contact their board, legislators, or professional counsel to voice their opinions and speak out about Section 4 to HB 240. The Delaware House Revenue & Finance Committee will be holding a hearing on HB 240 on June 21, 2017 at 3:00 pm at Legislative Hall in Dover. Nonprofits, their representatives, and members of the public are encouraged to attend.

Summary of Section 4 to HB 240. Among other things, Section 4 to HB 240 seeks to eliminate the charitable gift deduction on the Delaware income tax return. According to HB 240's Synopsis, Section 4 "eliminates itemized deductions and increases the standard deduction amount from $3,250 to $5,000 for single and married taxpayers filing separately and from $6,500 to $10,000 for taxpayers filing joint returns. In addition, Section 4 reduces from $110 to $85 the amount of the personal credit. Lastly, Section 4 raises the eligibility age from 60 to 65 in one-year increments over a five-year period for the extra, age-based personal credit." (emphasis added).

Summary of Potential Impact of Section 4 to HB 240. As discussed herein, Section 4 to HB 240 could have a significant and adverse impact on the amount of money collected by charitable organizations from individual donors. The tax deduction is not the only reason people give to charity, but there is no dispute it has influence. A large majority of Delawareans (83%) across the income tax spectrum contribute to charitable organizations.[1] In 2012, the most recent year for which federal income tax data is available, Delawareans gave $476,117,000 to charities, with a median contribution of nearly $3,000/person.[2] The giving ratio for Delaware is 2.74%, which is comparable to the surrounding Mid-Atlantic states.[3] As Table 1 shows, more than half (63%) of the charitable dollars donated in Delaware by private individuals are given by those making $100,000 or more in adjusted gross income (AGI).

Table 1. Delaware Giving Profile (2012).[4]

Similar legislation in other states. The majority of states offer tax deductions for charitable contributions.[5] In recent years, a few state legislatures have made changes to their state's itemized deduction requirements, including capping or eliminating the deductions for charitable giving, similar to Section 4 to HB 240.[6] Two state statutory regulations in this arena are instructive when considering the potential impact for Section 4 to HB 240: Michigan and Hawaii.

Michigan removed three tax credits in 2011 that were designed to encourage charitable giving to food banks, homeless shelters, and community foundations. A study following the enactment of this legislation found a significant drop in small donations to the Michigan community foundations: $400 dollar donations dropped 51% and $200 donations dropped $28%.[7] A follo…
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The Wizards From Oz: How Two Aussies Made Billions Quietly Powering SpaceX, Airbnb And NASA via @forbes http://buff.ly/2rvvBfY
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Neat idea: Wellesley business CycleBar becomes fundraising engine
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Why #trustbutverify is important: When The "Rogue" Twitter Accounts Start Fighting And Fundraising Kalev Leetaru
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We don't anticipate the GoFundMe & CrowdRise merger to affect DE Charity Challenge but will monitor & update
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White Elephant Gift Idea: Candy box with money

White elephant (or Yankee Swap) games are a fun holiday party for the home or office. But coming up with good ideas for a funny gift that will either cause a lot of trades or a lot of groans can be tricky sometimes - when all else fails, you usually you can't go wrong with a bottle of wine. 

Turning a box of chocolate into a box of chocolate and cash is a fun and creative idea for a white elephant gift. We gave this as a white elephant gift and it was a big hit. To make it, we carefully opened the candy box and removed a few pieces of chocolate and replaced them with some folded bills (within the agreed upon budget for the white elephant), and then slid the box back into the cellophane (taping it back shut to avoid any suspicion). Then we wrapped the box in wrapping paper. To our surprise, the box went last. But the reaction when he opened it was great - especially since this particular box was avoided by everyone else since they thought it was just a box of chocolate. You could probably do the same thing with coins but would need to tape them down so they don't rattle.

What fun white elephant gifts have you given or gotten?
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