Oregon is known for its citizens and Legislature working together to find innovative ways of preserving the state and its famous quality of life.
In 1967, the Oregon Beach Bill reserved coastal beaches for the public — a unique policy to this day. The Oregon coastline is still one of the most wild and beautiful places in the country, thanks to some forward-thinking citizens and legislators who held sacred the coastline and thought it should belong to the public.
Much like the Beach Bill, the Oregon Cultural Trust's tax credit is singular in its innovation. The program continues Oregon's legacy of innovating ways to enrich the lives of its citizens, rewarding Oregonians for doing their part to invest in this state's deep and far-reaching culture. No other states have passed legislation like this, and as a result, Oregon has become the place to look to for those trying to improve the quality of life in their own communities.
The program works like this: Donate to one of the more than 1,500 Cultural Trust partner nonprofit organizations in Oregon. Next, donate the same amount to the Oregon Cultural Trust. Finally, deduct that amount from your taxes; it's a dollar-for-dollar tax credit. In other words, donate $10 to your favorite nonprofit and $10 to the Cultural Trust, and then take $10 off your taxes — in addition to the tax deduction you get for your original donation to a cultural nonprofit. This way, you're essentially doubling your impact — at no added cost to you. It's as simple as that.
During its 16 years of raising and distributing dollars, the Trust has funded a cultural network across Oregon to the tune of over $25 million in grants. Every year, Oregonians rely on the Trust to support hundreds of cultural nonprofits in every county in the state. And it's not just money it raises; it also supports the social capital grown from community volunteer activities to matching grant support.
In fact, the tax credit program started when a group of citizens wanted to ensure that Oregon's government was doing everything it could to preserve arts and culture in our state. The Legislature listened and, in 2001, passed a house bill that provided funding and structure for the Oregon Cultural Trust's development, including the establishment of the tax credit program.
Since then, the Cultural Trust has worked hard to raise awareness of the tax credit program.
In 2017, Oregonians contributed more than $4.9 million to the Cultural Trust. More than $3 million of the funds raised were distributed across the state to five statewide partners: the Oregon Arts Commission, Oregon Humanities, the Heritage Commission, the Historical Society and the State Historic Preservation Office. Additional funds were distributed to 45 county and tribal cultural coalitions, for regranting in their communities, and directly to cultural nonprofits. The bulk of the remaining funds went into a permanent fund to ensure future support for Oregon culture.
Ultimately, the Oregon Cultural Trust's work allows everyone to have a hand in making sure opportunities to grow and prosper are plentiful. It is the Oregon way, after all.
You can find Oregon Cultural Trust nonprofits in Give!Guide.