Fiscal Cliff Turns its Eye to Non-Profits

Lynchburg, VA - In this season of giving, non-profits are pretty worried. There's been a lot of talk in Washington of changing the tax break Americans get for giving to charities; it's all part of that fiscal-cliff we've been hearing about. It's got non-profits concerned that without the tax break, giving will go down.

The president of United Way Worldwide weighed in on this, saying billions are at stake for non-profits. The tax break on charitable donations has been in the code for decades. This year, it's found itself on the short list to get cut down.

"We have to be creative, we have to pinch pennies, we have to do whatever we can," said James Bourdon, executive director, Urban Mountain Adventures.

Urban Mountain Adventures gets inner-city youth off the streets and into nature. An outdoorsman, James Bourdon's overcome many cliffs. But, the fiscal one has him worried.

"The tax deduction provides those means. They give us the funds to do what we're doing," said Bourdon.

The fiscal cliff is the devastating mix of tax hikes and budget cuts slated for the new year. Some economists say, if Congress doesn't act fast, the cliff could drop us into another recession. At this point, Congress is weighing all its options, as non-profits like United Way of Central Virginia wait on pins and needles for an answer.

"Right now, it's very difficult," said Marie Martin, executive director, United Way of Central Virginia.

Marie Martin is executive director at United Way of Central Virginia. This month, her non-profit had a successful food drive: they collected 12,000 pounds of food. But, Martin says losing the tax break could mean losing big donors.

"I know we here at United Way are looking at, okay, what do we need to be doing? How do we need to be making changes just in case something like this does happen," said Martin.

The fiscal cliff's put many programs on the chopping block. Now non-profits are pleading to take them off the list.

"Our donors aren't getting anything except the opportunity to help. And they'll continue to have that, as long as those tax cuts are in place," said Bourdon.

United Way and Urban Mountain Adventures both believe if the tax break goes away, people will still donate and give out of the goodness of their heart. But, there's worry they won't give as much as they do with that tax break.