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The evidence is clear. Volunteering is remarkably good for you.

 Helping the homeless or saving the wetlands not only provides food for the soul, it bolsters your immune system, reduces your blood pressure and adds years to your life span. 

The Corporation for National and Community Service recently pulled together research in this field and was able to demonstrate that people who volunteer live longer than those that do not. For example, individuals who get involved in good works after suffering a heart attack report reductions in despair and depression. This in turn drives a reduction in post-traumatic illness and significantly reduces mortality. It’s also true that those who volunteer have fewer incidents of heart disease in the first place. US Census Bureau data shows that states with greater percentages of volunteerism have lower rates of cardiac-related illness.

Of course, the benefits conferred by charitable work go well beyond protection against illness. The data shows that volunteering increases levels of life satisfaction, self esteem — and happiness. It makes people feel good about themselves when they reach out and give back to the world — healing the planet, saving lives. Volunteers also report that their charitable work enhances their career skills, from fundraising to communication.

In an interview Melinda Wolfe, Head of Professional Development at Bloomberg talked about the benefits — and gratifications — of charitable work. “Community service work is a great stress release. It takes me out of the challenges and conflicts of my day and allows me to see the bigger picture, reframe my perspective and, at the same time, feel deeply rewarded and gratified.” 

Subha Barry, Managing Director, Head of Global Diversity & Inclusion at Merrill Lynch – a work environment that has had more than its fair share of stress in recent months – made a similar point. “When I’m stressed and feel a lack of control over my career or life, the most powerful antidote is to give time to someone in need. When I’ve helped a colleague on a job search, or called around my neighbors for donations of food to stock the local soup kitchen, or spent time coaching a cancer patient, I walk away with gratitude for what I have. Nothing is more uplifting or fulfilling.” 

Surprisingly, it doesn’t require a huge expenditure of time to reap the multi-faceted benefits of volunteering.According to the new research, volunteers begin to see tangible benefits (to body and soul) by “donating” just 40-100 hours per year. One interesting fact: women volunteer at significantly higher rates than men. According to the US Census Bureau, across the country 32% of women volunteer, compared with 25% of men. 

Here are some considerations to ensure you get the maximum benefit from your generous donation:

  • As a nonprofit corporation, Jay Focus Group is classified by the Internal Revenue Services as exempt under IRC Section 501(c)(3) and as a public charity under IRC Section 509.

  • Keep records of your donations, including importantly, receipts or letters from the Jay Focus Group acknowledging receipt of your donation.

  • Donations of more than $250 must be supported by record of payment from your bank. (Cancelled check, bank statement, etc.)

  • If you volunteer, you cannot deduct the value of your services, but you may be able to deduct some expenses if they are:

  • Not reimbursed through your employer or anyone else

  • Directly connected with the services you performed

  • Expenses you had only as a result of your volunteer work

  • Not personal, living or family expenses

  • Generally, no more than 50 percent of your adjusted gross income can be deducted. If you donate more, carry that undeductable amount over into the next year.

We recommend you contact a tax professional for more information.

In addition to donations from individuals, the following ways of giving also qualify for maximum tax benefits 

Private Foundations

As a public charity, The Jay Focus Group is qualified to receive grants from private foundations. A grant to The Jay Focus Group will help your foundation satisfy its annual distribution requirements while helping the Jay Focus Group accomplish its mission of serving the Jay Community.

Donations of Securities

In addition to donating cash to The Jay Focus Group, individual donors may make gifts of publicly traded securities. The donor is not taxed on any gain in the property, and the donor may deduct the fair market value of the gifted securities against other income (subject to certain limitations).

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