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Greater Give could restore shared model

From the pages of In Business magazine.

Like any worthwhile business innovation, Greater Give started with a drawing on a napkin. That was back in 2008 as Dan Rashke, owner and CEO of Total Administrative Services Corp., had lunch with someone in his sales group. It was the germination of an idea, but it needed the convergence of several factors to become a realistic possibility.

Greater Give would allow employees to set aside pre-tax dollars for charities of their choice, just as they already do for childcare or medical needs. As Rashke recalls the lunch, it was a bit of a brainstorming session. “We started ideating,” he says, “and we drew on a napkin the idea of giving pre-tax, just like flexible spending accounts, and how that would work.”

Greater Give, which still needs enabling legislation in Congress, would work by giving employers tax benefits and a way to get around issues caused by the new federal tax law. It also would allow employees to pursue their own philanthropic passions by giving right out of their paycheck, and it would give nonprofits a continuous source of funding.

The idea remained dormant until the convergence of several trends, including the movement to make giving more like an employee benefit. “That’s a trend we’re seeing in the private sector, as well as in the public sector, and there are macro trends around giving — empowering more of an everyday philanthropist and compelling them to give more,” Rashke explains.

Rashke wants to stand up Greater Give as an Internal Revenue Code 501(c) (6) organization. With recently enacted tax legislation, which doubled the standard deduction, there is a great deal of concern that the tax incentive for charitable giving has materially diminished. Many filers no longer have an itemized value for donating. “That means the population of about 47% that was itemizing is expected to plummet down to only 5% or 6%,” Rashke states.

He believes Greater Give is needed to restore the shared-responsibility model between individuals and government. In a contentious political era, it might even bring Republicans and Democrats together on something worthwhile.

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