Law Review: Donating to local nonprofits makes a difference and feels good


“Happiness doesn’t result from what we get, but from what we give.”

— Ben Carson


I’m not a fan of politician Ben Carson, but that advice really hits the mark. We work so hard to acquire possessions and become successful, but in the end what really matters is family, health and relationships.

At a friend’s celebration of life in Loyalton last month, dozens of stories of family, generosity, humility and helping others were told, not a word was mentioned of my friend’s successful business. That says it all.

If you want your donation dollars to have a real impact, I softly suggest you do not give to a wealthy private university. Not to pick on Harvard, but in 2020 Harvard University’s endowment totaled $41.9 billion. In 2020, the endowments of the ten richest American universities were worth over $151 billion.


Here is how you can make a difference. Donate locally. If you want “bang for your buck,” keep your charitable dollars local.

People donate for different reasons. Some give for the passion. Try the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe as a lover of pets or Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care in South Lake Tahoe. If you value the preservation of open space, you can’t go wrong with the Truckee Donner Land Trust. Or the Feather River Land Trust which protects historic ranchlands in Sierra Valley. The Tahoe Fund is all about the lake. Concerned about the lack of affordable housing, look into the Mountain Housing Council:

Or even better, give your time to help a local organization. As Mohamad Ali said: “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” He also said: “I float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.” But I digress.

With or without charitable passion, with the CARES Act you can donate up to 100% of your adjusted gross income – a potentially amazing year-end benefit.


While unfortunately not yet as popular as Black Friday, Giving Tuesday has grown over the years and generated thousands of dollars for charities. Don’t let it deter your that your humble writer missed mentioning Giving Tuesday earlier this week, there is still plenty of time. Look for nonprofits that have matching funds to double your money. Consider donating stock where you can avoid capital gains and earn a bigger tax deduction. Maybe a donor advised fund with the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation where you get a tax write-off in the year of your donation and get to help direct where your funds are used.


There are so many worthy nonprofits it can be hard to know which to support – where to spread your wealth such as it is. Check out the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation website and find a charity that serves your area of interest and sprinkle them with your generosity:


We will close this year-end pitch with that insightful quote from Anne Frank, which says it all.

Give locally, change a life, get a tax write-off … and feel good about it.

Enjoy this holiday season.

And consider sharing your blessings with others.

Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter Simon licensed in California and Nevada, with offices in Truckee and Tahoe City, California, and Reno, Nevada. Jim’s practice areas include: real estate, development, construction, business, HOAs, contracts, personal injury, accidents, mediation and other transactional matters. He may be reached at or

Support Local Journalism


Support Local Journalism

Readers around Lake Tahoe, Truckee, and beyond make the Sierra Sun's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User