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Donations to Massena Music Friends now tax-deductible

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MASSENA - Folks who want to financially support the efforts of Massena Music Friends can now take a tax deduction if they submit their contribution through the Watertown-based Northern New York Community Foundation on behalf of the Friends group.

The volunteer group Massena Music Friends formed in 2010 to advocate for a continued strong music program in Massena schools. Opening a donor-advised fund with the Northern New York Community Foundation will allow them to accept donations that are tax deductible without going through the paperwork to officially become a not-for-profit organization.

Previously, donations made directly to Massena Music Friends did not qualify for a tax deduction, according to President Paul A. Haggett. “We’re a booster club essentially. We’re asking to become affiliated with an actual 501(c)(3) so that funds we raise can go to them,” Mr. Haggett said.

“It’s an easy way (for people to receive the tax deduction for their contribution) without us spending a lot of time and money to create 501(c)(3) not-for-profit ourselves. It gives potential donors the potential advantage of a tax deduction should they choose to support our cause,” he said.

Anyone who wants to donate to Massena Music Friends sends their check directly to the Northern New York Community Foundation and annotates “Massena Music Friends” on the memo line.

“They’ll send you a receipt and thank you note and you get a tax deduction for supporting the Music Friends and the music program at Massena Central School,” Mr. Haggett said.

“Not only does it provide the tax break incentive for potential donors, it also gives us as well as people who may entrust a donation to us the peace of mind to know that their money is being professionally managed by people who know what they’re doing,” he said.

The Northern New York Community Foundation, which has served the north country since 1929, will be the main repository for the money raised by Massena Music Friends.

“They’ve been in business a long time. They do a lot of scholarships and that type of thing for high school students,” Mr. Haggett said. “We’re hoping this is something that’s going to catch on with people who want to support in some way, above and beyond their school taxes, the music program. It’s all professionally managed and it’s a tax advantage for people.”

The Northern New York Community Foundation will handle the “vast majority of funds” for Massena Music Friends, although the Friends group will retain some local funding which will be used to support their fundraising efforts, such as food, cookies and water that are for sale during concerts, he said.

“We need some local funds. We have our own local bank account for paying for expenses we might incur. It’s likely at some point during the school year, perhaps when the spring concerts wrap up, we’ll ship that money off to the Community Foundation,” he said.

The funds raised by Massena Music Friends and managed by the Foundation will be made available to the Massena Central School District on an as-needed basis to sustain and enhance music education opportunities for students at all grade levels.

“School programs, especially the arts, are really feeling the budget pinch these days,” Mr. Haggett said. “We feel great that the Northern New York Community Foundation can help put our group in a better position to help our cause, Massena music.”

Studies have shown how strong arts programs help reduce dropout rates, improve student test scores and enhance team building, creative thinking and personal discipline, he said.

“We are very fortunate in Massena to have a strong music program. Massena Music Friends looks forward to working with the district and the Northern New York Community Foundation to keep our program strong,” Mr. Haggett said.

Massena Music Friends board member and volunteer co-chair Patricia R. Tubbs, who has years of experience as a fundraising consultant in the region, said the partnership also opens the door to potential grant funding, matching gifts from employers and even estate gifts that could be dedicated toward the local music program.

Northern New York Community Foundation Executive Director Rande S. Richardson agrees the partnership is a win-win.

“We are honored to have been asked to partner with Massena Music Friends to maximize their ability to fulfill their mission, and ours. Any time we can work collaboratively to help leverage resources for a particular initiative or region we welcome it. MMF clearly recognizes that we can accomplish more together, than separately,” he said.

Donations eligible for charitable treatment must be sent directly to the Northern New York Community Foundation, 120 Washington St., Suite 400, Watertown, N.Y., 13601, or call the Foundation at (315) 782-7110 with any questions.

Massena Music Friends is already considering a specific music department request for the purchase of a new electronic keyboard for an elementary music classroom, replacing a 25-year-old instrument. They hope that with support from the community, from donations to their NNY Community Foundation fund, as well as numerous planned fundraising activities, MMF will play a significant role in helping fund outside-of-budget equipment purchases and other departmental needs in the future.

The organization meets at 7 p.m. the second Thursday of each month in the Massena High School band room. Anyone interested in supporting the district music program is welcome to join.

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