The Music Mission's founder, Leah Witthuhn, found a passion for music at a young age. Many generous people helped foster her calling, and music was Leah's refuge during tough times. At the age of 14 she decided it was time to find a way to pay it forward.
With the help of her parents, friends, and community leaders, she ended up creating The Music Mission — a non-profit organization that gives the gift of music. The Music Mission is a way for the Fox Valley community to donate instruments and lessons to deserving children. We mainly work with children of low income families but we also occasionally provide merit-based gifts.
Our focus is the distribution of purchased or donated musical instruments to children who do not have access to them. Sometimes this is a direct donation, while other times we will give the instrument to a music teacher or school who can provide it to a child.
Another important part of what we do is providing music lessons to those who are not able to pay for them. We help provide the necessary practice materials, and arrange for a qualified teacher. The music teachers may volunteer, offer discounted rates, or receive tuition from the music mission in the form of a scholarship.
The board of directors is in place, the bylaws have been established and all the paperwork is successfully completed. We receive the great news that we are recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit organization!
The generous folks at Heid Music create an account for The Music Mission with some seed money to boot. We use the account to pay for the assessment and repair of donated instruments, as well as purchasing instruments, accessories, and books.
To ensure good governance, Leah needs to create a board of directors. The Music Mission goes from one kid's idea to a full fledged organization with her parents and mentors becoming stewards of the mission.
We start the legwork and paperwork that is required to apply for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable organization status. If the paperwork goes through as planned we will be able to accept tax deductible donations, of funding or instruments, making our charity more attractive to donors.
Community members have instruments to donate but our partners don't have the infrastructure in place to accept and manage the donated instruments. We must find a way to handle the donations of instruments ourselves.
With advice from Heid Music, Rock Garden Studios, her supportive parents and mentors, and the Community Foundation, Leah starts making inroads with local youth charity organizations. We start out using other local charities as umbrella organizations under which we can accept donated funds and use their locations to provide lessons.
The Music Mission's founder, Leah Witthuhn, reflects on the fact that music is a strong, supportive force in her world. Her passion for music is fostered by many generous people that she has met along her journey. She decides that she would like to find a way to pay it forward, that is to say, give other people the chance to experience the joy of making music.
There have been so many generous people who have helped us along the way. We are extremely thankful for the support we have received from the following people and organizations:
Potential recipients of gifts may contact us directly. Some families are brought to our attention by their teachers or friends. We do ask for an explanation of why they feel they should receive a gifted instrument or lessons, and we do attempt to vet the potential recipient through interviews and references. Once a potential recipient has been vetted, we put them in line to receive a gift.
Donated instruments are inspected by a qualified board member or instrument repair technician. Those in need of some care are repaired and then added to our inventory. If the donation is a type of instrument that we do not get many requests for, we actively pursue a recipient via schools and music teachers or even social media. If it is an instrument for which we receive many requests, we will hold on to it knowing that we will be able to donate it in short order. If, however, we already have a vetted recipient lined up, we provide them with the instrument as a gift.
When we provide an instrument to a music teacher or school, we are confident that this individual or institution will be a good steward of the instrument which does not require continued oversight. If an instrument is of relatively low value, the recipient must learn proper maintenance of the instrument but we offer the gift with no other strings attached.
For instruments of higher value, the gift is made under a few provisions. Before the instrument is given, the recipient must learn proper maintenance of the instrument. The instrument must be kept in good repair and made available for inspection upon our request. A higher cost instrument is usually a gift in circumstances where the recipient is receiving music lessons. In those cases, and when lessons are gifted, we follow up with the recipient and music teacher quarterly to ensure that the recipient is still enrolled in lessons and practicing at an acceptable level.
The Music Mission is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, designated as a public charity by the IRS. You can verify this by searching for our EIN, 47-2276435, in the IRS Tax-Exempt Organization Check Tool.
This means that you can deduct your donation to the music mission from your taxable income on your federal tax returns for the tax year in which the donation is made. In order to deduct your donation, you need to maintain a record of the contribution in the form of either a bank record or a written communication from us. If you wish to deduct a contribution of $250 or more, however, you are required to have written communication from us detailing the donation. To make this process easier, we provide all donors who make a contribution of $10 or more with a letter acknowledging their donation. This way, even if you give less than the the $250 threshold and you don't need a letter from us, you'll still receive one to serve as a reminder of the deductible donation at tax preparation time.
If you want more information regarding tax deductible donations, take a look at IRS publication 1771, Charitable Contributions�Substantiation and Disclosure Requirements.