Making a Bigger Giving Impact through a Retirement Account

Did you know you can support the nonprofits you love through your retirement accounts?

A conversation with Alvin Solomon, a DoveLewis supporter, about how he leveraged his IRA to make his largest donation to DoveLewis to date!


Al, how did you first learn about DoveLewis?

My family moved to Portland about 11 years ago including our three cats. Each of our kitties was helped out by DoveLewis throughout the years, and we will always appreciate the care they received.

What inspired you to start giving to Dove?

Dove used to run a Pets in the Pearl campaign and one year our cat, Louie, was a “team captain.” After that, we kept making a few donations and kept in touch with the Dove team. This year was one our biggest donation because we were able to tap into what we’ve accumulated over the years and support DoveLewis through a Qualified Charitable Distribution from our IRA account.

First off – thank you for your gift! This is your first year doing a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD). Why make a gift now?

My wife, Janet, and I are both at a point that, being fortunate, we want to start giving more money back to charity. We’ve saved all of our working lives and have to deal with the requirement of making some of it taxable.

Around the holidays last year (2018), we had an end-of-year conversation with our accountant, who said we have to start taking RMDs out of our IRA. My response was, “Great! What’s an RMD?” He explained that an RMD stands for a “Required Minimum Distribution”. Once you hit a certain age, you have to take money out of your IRA and it has to be taxed, but you don’t have to pay tax on the amount used for charitable donations. This is the QCD part. The big catalyst was because we’d have to start taking RMDs, we knew we would have some money we had to do something with, either pay taxes or give away.

We discussed it and decided right then and there to do charitable donations. DoveLewis was the first charity that came up in our minds.

Why was that?

We love DoveLewis and have [memorial] bricks at Dove for our three cats. Every time we’re back in Portland we’ll walk past the hospital and come in to see the bricks and say hi to the kitties.

How did making the donation work?

Our accountant walked us through how to do it which is actually very simple. We decided on the amounts we wanted to give to a handful of different nonprofits that are important to us. Then we could decide to either have our IRA administrator send donations directly to the nonprofits, or send us checks made in the right amounts that we could mail in ourselves. Not every administrator does the checks, but ours has that as an option. If you have the checks delivered to you, make sure you mail them in to the nonprofits before December 31! We also didn’t know that if you wait until the end of the [calendar] year to take your RMD, you have to make all your donations before you take the RMD so you don’t get taxed on the amount you withdraw for donations. Timing matters! Our IRA administrator sent us a check for the DoveLewis amount. Once we got the check we walked over to Dove’s offices.

What would you say to others who want to give more to charities like DoveLewis that are important to them and their families, and are considering doing it through a QCD?

You don’t have to be a financial wizard! For people in this situation, who may want to make a donation through a QCD, talk to either a financial advisor or accountant because it’s really very easy and you get a nice tax break.

You directed your gift to support DoveLewis’ hospital expansion project. Can you share why you picked this specific project?

When we were talking to the team, we said that’s what we want to do - give to the most important project at the time. Our goal was to give funds to DoveLewis to do what’s most important to keep their work going. Every year we’ll continue to give to Dove, and we’ll use a QCD again.

Do you mind sharing what it means to you to support Dove, and what you hope your giving accomplishes in the future?

Sure! One thing we really liked about our time at Dove was the level of expertise between the specialists and critical care. I practiced medicine for 35 years, so I can tell when you’re getting good quality care or not (laughs). I have a niece who always wanted to be a veterinarian when she grew up. When she graduated, she volunteered at a local vet’s office in Virginia and last year got accepted to vet school. She’s a freshman now and turns out she knew who DoveLewis was because her school uses Dove’s online teaching program. DoveLewis does a great job teaching.

We’ll always appreciate the quality of care we received for our cats, and want that quality to be available with others. Whenever we were sitting in the lobby, and there were pet owners who weren’t as fortunate and didn’t have the means to pay there was never one iota from the staff of, ‘we’ll have to think about treating your pet, because you don’t have money.’ That was so impressive to us. DoveLewis takes all comers and does whatever it takes to get the animals taken care of.  That’s what Dove means to us. 

Considering making a donation to your favorite nonprofits through a QCD? Things to Know!
  • Gifts through a QCD (also called an IRA Rollover) allow donors who are at least 72 years old to give charities up to $100,000 a year directly from their IRAs without it counting as taxable income.
  • QCDs count toward required minimum distributions, the amount of money that must be withdrawn from IRAs each year after reaching age 72. The distributions can’t go to donor-advised funds or life-income gifts, such as charitable remainder trusts or gift annuities.
  • QCD gifts can be made only from IRAs.
  • Donors cannot count a QCD gift as a charitable deduction on their federal taxes even if they itemize. The potential tax benefit of a QCD gift is that it is transferred from an account directly to a charity so the money isn’t taxable income to the donor.


As a nonprofit, DoveLewis does not provide tax advice. State laws about charitable deductions and how QCDs are handled vary. Consult an adviser.

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