Haha. This donation thing was supposed to be a small quick-collect, help someone out, feel good, move on to something new tomorrow kind of event. With more than $11,500 of donations now, it has turned into a lot more than that! Which is beyond awesome.
But I also wasn’t prepared for such a response (as I mentioned in my post The People, The Dog, and the Ass).
Today I have spent a lot of time communicating with people who know the ins and outs of government assistance. I’ve been discussing how to do this with an accountant. I’ve read every comment and suggestion you all have made in regards to what we could do with this money.
There are a few hard facts that I hadn’t thought about before all this.
1) Government assistance programs are setup so that people get booted off the system if they receive too much in money or gifts. The only way a large sum (gifts or money) wouldn’t affect this family’s benefits is if everything wasn’t reported, and while I can’t decide anything for them, I have to assume that they will do everything by the book.
2) I have to run the funds through a 501(c)(3) (non-profit organization) or I could see some heavy personal tax liability on these funds. I can do this, without any effect on what has come in, but it will take a little time to find a good non-profit organization and to line everything up legitimately. I was originally planning to just pay a little tax on the money (when I only expected a little to come in), but at this amount I don’t have the money to do so and I have to be careful about how I go about this so that I don’t end up in trouble because of it.
3) I can’t know what to do and what properly to do without knowing this family’s specific situation when it comes to what will and won’t help them. In other words, I can’t just show up with a check. At this point it would be irresponsible.
Because of all that, this is what I’ve decided is going to happen.
But before I tell you, let me mention that it is okay for you to email me and ask for a refund for your donation if you’re not comfortable with my decision of how to spend your funds. If you made a donation with one thing in mind, I will not hold it against you at all if you aren’t onboard anymore. Refunding is simple, just be sure to give me the email address and name you used to make your donation. I hope most of the donations stay in place though because, while there are more hoops to jump through than I knew of, this money is going to make a big difference in these people’s lives.
Continued on next page.
I just made a donation. Wish it was more, but no paycheck next week thanks to a nasty virus.
You are welcome to ue my donation for any family or person you see fit. I would urge you to consider not only families, but also perhaps one single person, as they often struggle but get little-to-no help.
However you do it, I trust you to do so lovingly. Is Noah in on this? This would be such a wonderful lesson for him.
I just read the first post about the dog bite and had just donated $10. I just caught up with this post and don't doubt for a minte that you will ensure it goes to someone in need, wether it be this family or another. Bless you and a very Merry Christmas to you and Noah!
Awesome. I am so glad there was so much response! (I wouldn't want my tiny $5 back for anything!!) I think your idea is so great, and involving the family as well is so empowering, too. Your choice to respond in the way you did created a huge positive change that is going to ripple out in ways we have no idea -- both to the 'recipients' and the 'givers'. Such a good thing!
And as always: See what we can all do when just a tiny bit is tossed in?! What can we do with our -time- when we just toss a couple of bucks in the coffer?!
'Paying it forward in life' is so easy -- even when we don't have hardly anything to pay forward. Connecting with people -- even those you don't know -- means so much. We really have no idea how taking just a moment in our day to reach out to someone can affect not just the "now," but the "later" in their lives. Lives get saved; hope is rejuvenated. Taking the tiniest risk or movement outside our comfort zone, a second to smile or offer a hand -- this is what brings about cascades of change.
I would think you could buy food, medical equipment, car parts, etc and have them buy it from you at a greatly reduced price without affecting their money/gift income totals. Though I don't know how sales tax for that would work.
I don't have a problem that this is more than was ever expected. I have no desire to have my donation returned. Dan, I think this is amazing that you are putting so much time into this, especially when you though it was going to be just little bit of money. I'm glad to be part of a community that has such a big heart as this one. Way to go everyone. Have a great holiday.
great posts Dan. I love what you're doing, love the people giving, and love the people offering real tangible help even more! However, I can't feel all awesome about it cuz, like you said, there are so many families in need. I wrote a post about this on my own blog, Surrogate Insanity, today. I hope you'll read it and respond. http://surrogateinsanity.blogspot.com/2012/12/response-to-dog-bite-family-above-me.html
You have a good heart. I trust your judgement to handle the money in whatever way benefits everyone most. Thanks for doing this, it makes me happy.
Dan, one way to that might be legitimate and not harm them would be to see what they need and then go and purchase it for them - or give them gift cards - food, local stores, make their car payments for them etc.
This is amazing! You are amazing! Your followers are amazing! This whole thing makes my heart so happy <3
I always tell anyone who volunteers for kitchen duty with me - if you're doing it, you're in charge. Do it. The outpouring of love from your "fans" being bigger than expected is proof of who you are - you're in charge. GREAT JOB!!!
The cupcake charity is a non-profit out of Eagle Mountain, UT (so not too far from you) that is set up for this exact purpose of taking community donations and helping those in the community. I know they were set up specifically for this community but it might be worth a call to find out if they can help you.
Dan,The idea wasn't to make life a lot harder for you either.
Don't know if anyone else has suggested this (without reading all 195 comments) but if the non-profit is too much trouble, you can use my $10 towards your income taxes. Let's face it, if you bought them a new car, groceries, etc. you have to pay sales tax. If others are willing to 'divert' their donations also, can the accountant estimate how much to reserve?
I'm okay with you doing whatever you think is appropriate. I just want to help. Whether it be the family that you first mentioned or having you spread it out to multiple familes.
I trust your judgement. You've shown your heart to us and now we're showing ours to you.
I agree wholeheartedly! I hope too many donations aren't refunded... I know how much this money will help these families in need! Sorry for all the hoops you'll have to jump through to make it happen but Kudos for your huge heart and willingness to help!
literally brought to tears with how amazing your heart is and how we all came together to help people who truly need it. <3
Thank you so much Dan! You are a wonderful person! I just made my donation. Sorry it's late, but I had to juggle my finances to see if I could send a substantial amount to help. Anything you decide to do will be great with me. Thanks for being the best Santa this year :) I hope Noah sees what a fabulously awesome DAD he has :)
Hi Dan, it sounds like you've got a very generous heart and are making the best out of a bad situation! I really admire you for that.
I know you may (probably) already have a couple of other families in need in mind for the other funds, but if I may, I'd like to suggest one. This precious family has a teenage daughter that is in dire need of surgery, but due to circumstances with insurance, etc., they need $20,000 up front before the surgery can be scheduled. They have raised over $12,000 in a few short weeks but seem to have plateaued. Surgery has been prescheduled for Feb. but if they don't finish raising the funds before then, it will be canceled (again). Basically, this teen has a genetic disorder that has caused a tethered spinal cord and a Chiari malformation of her brain. Her cerebellum is coming out of her skull and pressing on her spinal cord. She is in constant, extreme pain 24/7 and pain meds don't help. The surgery she needs immediately is to de-tether her spinal cord, which will provide immediate relief and get her back on her feet again, instead of living in pain in bed all day. Every day.
I'll post the FB fundraising page for this precious girl which more adequately describes her situation, but I can attest that she is real... my son and her brother are in math club together. So I'm not making this up. Even if you've decided to help other families in need, I hope that your readers here will take an extra minute to look up my friends and their precious daughter. On Facebook, look up "Quinn Merritt Fundraiser."
Thank you for allowing me to post this here. Many blessings to you and your readers. :)
P.S. I may post this on your FB page as a comment as well and hope that is ok.
Dan, you are doing the most wonderful, selfless thing for other families for Christmas this year. Bless your heart. You are Pure LOVE. I had to figure out my finances, but I will be sending in my donation today. I feel your love every time I enter your Blog. Thank you for being "Beautiful You". I will be having a very bad Christmas this year, so this will make me happy. Thank you Dan, and "thank yous" to everyone else. All of you helped to make my Christmas a happy one also :)
Sounds perfect! A lot more work than you were planning but it is wonderful that you're willing to go through with it. Thank you.
I'm on board with anything you wanna do. :)Very selfless of you for sticking with this and seeing it through after such an overwhelming response.
Maybe you can contact the guys and girls from It Starts With Us. Their Love Drop Team runs similar donation operations regularly, so they might have some useful pointers.Don't know if web addresses are allowed in comments, but here goes:
Awesome, awesome, awesome!!! I'm so glad that I donated and there's no way that I'd ask for it back. It sucks that you're having to jump thru so many hoops but it sounds like it'll be well worth it when you can see the end results.
Just something to think about, in case you haven't researched through your local welfare agencies: I don't know if it is different in Utah, but I am on assistance in Idaho, and if it is a "thing" (not cash) that is not a piece of property, or vehicle, you can gift endlessly without affecting their help. Also, money gifts to the children in the home under $1500 (like the card from grandma with $100 in it, or the church charity that gives you a sum of money to buy for your kids, etc.) is usually over looked too, especially at Christmas or birthday time. For example, at tax return time, they give you a little over a month to spend your refund down to the allowable level (In my case, I can have a total of $1900 in assets per month before it affects my help, so if you gave me $1500, I would have to spend $400 of it, plus my normal income, in order to retain my benefits) so if you gave this family up to $1500, and they use it to improve their circumstance by spending it on paying off debts or double/triple on bills, etc., they won't have their benefits affected. The system is kinda screwy like that. They could go to Disneyland on the money you give them, and all the system cares about is if they have any new "assets". They would rather a person "blow it" than to keep any savings or buy something they can benefit from in the long run, like buying a car or real estate with it.
What a pain in the butt for you Dan. I trust you, do what you will. It will be exactly what I'd have chosen myself I'm sure. Good luck with all of this :-)
You're a good man, Dan, and I want to thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. You remind me that there are good people out there. :)
Keep doing what you are doing, as long as my donation goes to help someone I am happy. And thank you for doing all of this, I don't think anyone could have foreseen the legal ramifications when this started and you are doing a fantastic job researching the best possible solution!
Great decision Dan!! I knew you would do the best with the money given. I am sure each family will be overwhelmed with gratitude!! Thanks for starting something heartwarming and amazing :-)
Thanks for doing all the leg work associated with this donation Dan. I love that you have also pointed out that this family will still be in need after Christmas. A lot of people forget that. There are so many people in need and every bit of help is appreciated. Please keep my donation.
Sometimes I take what I have for granted and it's seeing that there are people that barely have the essentials in life that reminds me that I should be grateful. It's a great learning opportunity for our children as well. They have all kinds of toys and video games. They always have food in their bellies and a warm house to come home to. They don't see that not everyone has that.
Thank-you again Dan for all your hard work, and for your big heart.
YOU change peoples lives- You are one amazing guy - if you lived in the UK. I would telling the Queen to make you a Knight, because you are a Knight in Shining Armour. Noah is one lucky lad having you as his role model. So happy that this family and others are getting help that they need! Christmas or after, this needs to be dealt with professionally. You are of course the right man for the job!
How are the wounds?
what about paying some of their medical bills? can you do that directly to the hospital/ doctors office without penalty to them? I think what you are doing id great Dan. You are an amazing person.
Dan, I love your heart. I'd like to point out, however, as a parent of a child with high functioning autism, how detrimental that dog might be to the child's welfare. I am not discounting the situation as a dangerous one, an animal that has bitten you needs action. Please consider helping the family to obtain training for their dog, and therapy (applied behavior analysis) for their daughter :) http://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/treatment/applied-behavior-analysis-aba
Love IS louder, Dan. Keep on walkin' the walk!!!
Well I completely trust whatever you decide Dan..and THANK YOU again for giving me a trustworthy way to help people in need. Gift giving doesn't benefit only the receiver..but the giver as well..I hope you do more things like this in the future.
Right, if they get more than $2,000 in an account you lose certain benefits. My son would lose his SSI for example. Dan, There are some things you could do like tell them to take their car to that guy and get it fixed --the bill is on you... They wouldn't have to report that. At least, most people wouldn't. Not if they never saw the money and didn't know how much the fix was. Often, one car is not counted toward benefits.., so... with $11,500 you could go buy them a Hyundai. For example. :) I think there are ways you could give them the majority of that money without it being a huge cash infusion that would have to be reported. But yes, consult an accountant. Just some things to think about ;) No, I am not suggesting anything illegal. Spreading the wealth would be a good idea as well.
I can honestly say that I'm NOT surprised, at all, by the generosity of the people who follow what you do. However, I am DISGUSTED that you have to jump through SO many hoops because of your intention to make one family's life a little bit better in a ONE SHOT DEAL!!!! There should be provisions for a one-time "windfall" that would not jeopardize any assistance one may be receiving. Oh, well... I'm sure you're doing the right thing and the best for everyone involved. Thanks, Dan, for letting me be part of something so special!!!!
Dan, you could still get them a decent reliable vehicle and have some left over to help in other ways too (bills, personal needs etc) with the donations and not have it affect their ability to qualify for aid. It seems as if that might be a true need for them. By the way, I'm so glad you are in the world.
Sounds good to me man. It is still going to help people in need and not just the original family but others too. No refunds here.
I knew I could trust your decision. You're an amazing person and I can't wait to see how it all turns out.
Everyone else, if you can, keep donating! The more we have the more we can spread it around.
I love you all, but if I had a choice I'd take all the money so my mom wouldn't have to pay my rent anymore.
Who doesn't have that story, but the truth is I have a roof over my head and a family that helps me, I wish everyone had parents and family as amazing as mine, and those that don't? Well they have us. The dysfunctional family who is mean to each other sometimes. We love each other anyway.
Your internet daughter, granddaughter, niece, aunt, sister.
So happy to hear that everyone was so generous...I gave a little, but it is what I could...I am pleased that you can help more than one family (and I am thinking some money for some car maintenance to keep it running would be great, and might be able to be funneled through the non-profit...) Happy Holidays to you and Noah!
I'm good. Pay it forward. No refund required. Thanks for thinking! It will all work out to support them. Always loop holes around things. Thanks for all your research. Blessings!
@lvnvn8ve I am in the exact same position as you... and agree with the position after the fact.
DAN - maybe you can update the original dog bite post so people don't feel compelled to give out of obligation to help, since help is nicely achieved already, and THEN find out that it's already over the top.
@ElizabethMThorp Thank you! Thank you so much! I had felt earlier like I was screaming into the wind... just hoping someone would hear me. Thank you, even your wee bit helps so much. If everyone would just send a wee bit, this goal would be met so fast... Thanks again. <happytears> Many blessings, Charla
@crusherbevdr Thank you! :) Many blessings, Charla