Yacht donations, marine charities help children in need.
It’s always the right season to give to those in need, but the end of the fiscal year correlates with a generosity spike - to make one more contribution for a last-minute, itemized tax deduction.
However, most boat owners don’t donate their vessels out of altruism, it’s to stop the bleeding of incessant maintenance costs and expensive repairs for an aged boat that’s hard to sell. The write-off for income taxes is actually a bonus. Donating a boat or yacht is a legal process governed by the IRS tax code for charitable giving and begins with an independent appraisal to determine the vessel’s value.
“We cannot be involved in the appraisal,” said Roger Herd, a veteran yacht broker and operations manager for AMI Kids’ yacht donation program. AMIkids transforms the lives of juvenile offenders and delinquents through character building, water adventure and experiential training in seamanship.
“The charity is at arms’ length because we don’t want to give an illusion of collusion,” said Herd, adding, “The appraisal value is between the donor and the appraiser.”
If the donor’s appraisal meets their needs for a desirable write-off, AMI Kids performs a complete marine survey, determining how much money is required to upgrade the boat with material improvements, repaint, varnish, etc. They perform about 14 major vessel refits annually. For decades, AMIkids’ donors are yachting’s most elite clientele, famous musicians and owners of the world’s most prolific vessels, including motoryachts Patriot, Chanticleer, Gracie, Sashay and Banyan.
Herd actually turns down about 90-percent of the boats offered, as most don’t meet his business model for proper return on investment. “It’s complicated and we don’t always make the right decision,” said Herd. “Sometimes we are stuck with a dog of a boat. We spend thousands each year on surveys - at our cost.”
If the boat passes survey, AMI Kids will close on the vessel and invests their own money, about 10 - 15-percent of the boat’s market value, on repairs to bring it to market. Ultimately, the vessel is leased by a new party for three years per IRS regulations preventing vessel title change for 36 months.
“We provide an operating lease, just like a car,” said Herd. “Then you can either turn the boat in or make a balloon payment and walk away with the title. The funds we derive support activities for our kids.”
Currently, 44 schools in nine states participate in AMIkids. The program is recognized by the U.S. Department of Justice and is administered through a local school district and small state grants. AMIkids serves about 3,500 at-risk children each year - and changes their lives for the better.
“Our yacht donation program and resource development program supplement what the schools get to make the program successful to turn these kids around,” said Herd. “We have a 75-percent success rate that the child will not offend again after reentering society.”
About 135,000 youths have been impacted over 45 years by AMIkids. About 400 are active alumni, volunteering as positive role models who interact with kids matriculating in the program.
“It doesn’t take a lot to get off track and revert to old behaviors,” said Herd. “We want them to be part of our AMIkids family for life. We have good results. Most of the kids have never been in salt water before this program,” said Herd.
In addition to seamanship skills, AMIkids provides scuba dive training and certification, white water rafting adventures and their own Olympics.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Herd. “We also have a floating classroom where scientists teach biology and oceanography.”
GET INVOLVED - GIVE BACK!
You may not have a boat or yacht to donate, but everyone can give back by sending good karma to worthy, non-profit organizations.
In addition to AMIkids yacht donation program, there are several, legitimate marine charities that need help and participation. Some organizations are looking for volunteer captains and crew, others need supplies, cash donations or vessels for a day.
RMK Merrill-Stevens is the title sponsor of Fish to Make a Difference, which unites the fishing community by accepting donated vessels. Fishing trips and classes for critically ill children and their families are provided with in-hospital art classes and coloring books.
Freedom Waters brings critically ill children and their families - and veterans - for a day of cruising in style, away from the hospital in therapeutic, fresh, salt air. Their primary vessel is M/Y Mariner operated by Capt. Sean Kennedy. Freedom Waters also seeks smaller vessels for day cruises to create a memory to last a lifetime for those aboard.
M/V Pacific Hope for the Caribbean is under the command of Capt. Marvin Wilson. This unique vessel seeks donations for missionary medicine by sea and serves victims of natural disasters onboard ship. She is deployed to Dominica providing dental, ocular and primary medical care for survivors of Hurricane Maria in addition to rebuilding churches and homes.
Perhaps the most well known yachting charity is Yacht Aid Global (YAG). Each year, YAG provides humanitarian aid, conservation and disaster response leadership around the world. Superyachts are loaded with supplies for people in need while providing yacht crew the opportunity to volunteer in humanitarian and conservation initiatives around the world.
This author has personally contributed time to Freedom Waters and M/V Pacific Hope. What I received in inspiration from the courageous people served by these marine non-profits is just so much more than I gave to them. Our marine community is blessed. Make 2019 count: help those less fortunate than yourself. Pay it forward! Lisa Overing