When you register as a guest at a Doubletree Hotel or Guest Suites in Minneapolis, you receive a slim, one-page flyer with your room key. The flyer states that “Doubletree Hotels and Guest Suites of Minneapolis is pleased to introduce you, our valued Guest, to ‘Stepping Out with the Arts,’ a partnership with five unparalleled arts organizations.” Turn the flyer over and it provides a description of, and the phone numbers for, five cultural institutions (The Minnesota Orchestra, Guthrie Theater, Walker Art Center and Minnesota Sculpture Garden, The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and The Weisman Art Museum).
Even more interesting and relevant is the bold type toward the bottom of the flyer that states, “Purchase a tin of Doubletree’s world-famous chocolate chip cookies from any Minneapolis area Doubletree and one dollar per tin will be donated to an educational outreach fund for our five partners.”
This wonderful idea could be worth emulating in your community. Helping to fund educational activities is an excellent form of public relations for the businesses involved, and announces programming while helping to extend and improve them.
Perhaps you can find relevance to your educational responsibilities in the following quotations:
Great dancers are not great became of their technique; they are great because of their passion. Martha Graham
Good enough never is. Debbi Fields (Mrs. Fields Cookies)
The only place you find success before work is in the dictionary. May V. Smith
Ideas are a dime a dozen. People who put them into action Are priceless. Anonymous
Volunteering and the I.R.S.
There are two very good reasons that docents and other volunteers working in the United States should keep careful records of the hours they contribute to a not-for-profit institution. For the benefit of the institution, of course, such records are useful in proving in-kind donations when applying for grant funds. Volunteers who itemize their income tax deductions can also use such records to their financial benefit.
Most people are aware they can deduct contributions of money or property they make to, or for the use of, qualified organizations such as museums. Membership fees or dues may also be deducted. However, in both cases, you can deduct only the amount that is more than the value of any benefits you may receive.
Some out-of-pocket expenses may also be deductible, if they are unreimbursed, directly connected with the services you give the institution, expenses you had only because of the services you gave, and not personal, living, or family expenses. If, for example, you are the chosen representative attending the National Docent Symposium or other such convention, you can deduct unreimbursed expenses for travel and transportation, including a reasonable amount for meals and lodging.
If you are required to wear a uniform as part of your docent duties, you can deduct the cost and keep of the uniform. You can deduct unreimbursed out-of-pocket expenses, such as the cost of gas and oil, that are directly related to the use of your automobile while serving as a docent. If you do not want to deduct actual expenses, you can use a standard rate of 12 cents per mile to figure your contribution. You can deduct parking fees and tolls, but for these and all other deductions, reliable written records are required.
As with all tax questions, you should consult a tax expert for information about your specific tax requirements. Personal assistance is also available by calling the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 during regular business hours. If you have access to TTY/TDD equipment, you can call 1-800-829-4059. Even though April 15, 1998, is long gone, April 15, 1999, is just around the corner!
Historic House Museum Conference
The McFaddin-Ward House in Beaumont, TX, will be hosting “Historic House Museums: Issues and Operations,” a conference taking place on November 5 -7, 1998. The conference will include sessions on museum education and interpretation. The cost of the conference is $100 per person and includes registration fees and materials, two continental breakfasts, two lunches, and one evening event with meal. The conference takes place at the Hohday Inn Beaumont Plaza. Room rates are available at $62.50 per night. For additional information, please contact: McFaddin-Ward House 725 Third Street Beaumont, TX 77701, or call (409) 832-1906.
“For Your Consideration,” The Docent Educator 8.1 (Autumn 1998): 14-15.