Beliefnet

WASHINGTON, March 2 (AP) - The White House point man on community service, John DiIulio, and his wife have given about 10 percent of their after-tax income to charitable organizations in each of the past five years, DiIulio says. Even that, about $125,000 since 1996 and far above the national average, is not enough, he says.

He and his wife hope to increase their giving to 25 percent of their income.

"I don't think this represents any kind of a model for anyone," DiIulio, director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, said Thursday. "Everybody should do the best they can do, and I'm sure I can do better."

DiIulio summarized his charitable contributions after The Associated Press asked about them. He is not required to release the information and was initially reluctant to do so, but he said he concluded that it was an appropriate question given his new job.

An academic and writer, DiIulio is heading President Bush's effort to break down barriers to government money for religious organizations and to encourage Americans to increase their personal contributions to charity. One of his goals is to convince Americans that volunteering time is as important as financial contributions.

Among President Bush's initiatives is a proposal that would allow taxpayers who do not itemize to claim a deduction for charitable contributions.

A survey by Independent Sector, an independent group formed to enhance philanthropy and nonprofit initiatives, found that 70 percent of American households contributed to charity in 1998. Those who did gave an average of 2.1 percent of their incomes, or about $1,075 per year, per household. Figures from the Internal Revenue Service suggest that Americans with higher incomes give larger portions of their incomes.

An organization called Newtithing is encouraging Americans to give 10 percent of their incomes to charity, and many churches recommend the same, said Melissa Brown of Indiana University, managing editor of Giving USA 2001, the nation's leading annual source of information on charitable giving.

Asked about the DiIulios' giving, she said: "That's actually very generous."

DiIulio's income in 1996-2000 came from his job on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania, from consulting fees, payments for serving on boards, speaking fees, and royalties from books, including the leading college text on American government. His wife, Rosalee, was assistant director of New Jersey's Medicaid program.

Together, he said, they contributed about $65,000 in tax-deductible checks between 1996 and 2000. In addition, they directed at least $35,000 from honoraria for speeches, writing fees and other work to charities. It could be more, he said, but his records are not complete.

They also gave about $25,000 in cash and other financial support to family, friends and churches, he said.

He said they also contributed clothing, computers, candy, books and other items to a variety of organizations but, as a matter of personal preference, have never claimed tax deductions for such in-kind contributions. They are not included in the total.

The $125,000 over five years, he said, represents about 10 percent of the couple's after-tax income.

DiIulio currently earns no salary for his White House job, he said, but beginning April 1 will make about $130,000 to $140,000 per year. He noted that this is a pay cut.

The DiIulios' charitable contributions benefited a variety of organizations, he said. Among them: The Jesu Elementary School in Philadelphia, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the Ella J. Baker House in Boston, Families Against Mandatory Minimums, the University of Pennsylvania and Prison Fellowship Ministries.

He would not say how much he gave to any particular group.

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