Pastor Michael Allen of Uptown Baptist Church tweeted those words after a gunman opened fired on a group of people standing near a bus stop outside the church. According to a Chicago Sun-Times report, at the time of the shooting, about 175 people were eating tacos in a church outreach ministry meal to the homeless. One victim collapsed on the church steps and lay near death.
Why do people give to charities? Is it the tax break, the satisfaction of helping others, or perhaps a combination of factors? The Wall Street Journal recently published an article by Elizabeth Svoboda called “Hard-Wired for Giving,” adopted from her new book What Makes a Hero? The Surprising Science of Selflessness (Aug. 31/ Sept. 1, 2013 WSJ Review). With nary a mention of Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3), the author instead focuses on how the human brain is apparently built for generosity. Fascinating stuff.
The numbers don’t lie – nonprofits are deeply integrated into the fabric of American society. According to the Hill and Mancino treatise Taxation of Exempt Organizations, "There are more than 1.4 million nonprofit organizations exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code (the Code) as organizations described in one of the paragraphs of Section 501(c)."