Year-End Giving Deadlines

As we enter the holiday season and the end of 2016, Turkish Philanthropy Funds is poised to assist you with your year-end giving and grant making with the best possible service. Please keep these important dates in mind to ensure your year-end gifts qualify for a charitable income tax deduction in the 2016 tax year:

  • Checks sent via the U.S. Postal Service to TPF office must be postmarked on or before December 31, 2016.
  • Checks sent via FedEx, DHL, UPS or a similar service must be physically received at TPF office on or before December 31, 2016.
  • Gifts of appreciated securities and wire transfers should be made by Wednesday, December 28, 2016. Early notification of these gifts will help ensure a smooth transfer. Contact Senay Ataselim-Yilmaz at  or call 646.530.8988 for assistance with stock gifts and wire transfers. Kindly note that early notification of these gifts will help ensure a smooth transfer.
  • Real estate gifts must have title transferred on or before Thursday, December 29, 2016.
  • Credit card gifts should be made by 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 29, 2016, to ensure timely posting by the credit card company.

Year-end grant recommendations

Donor advised fund holders may wish to recommend grants as part of year-end campaigns or as holiday contributions. In order for nonprofit recipients to receive grants in 2016, recommendations should be made by Thursday, December 15 as long as the non-profit is a TPF partner in Turkey or a tax-exempt organization in the United States. Donor advised grant recommendations could be made by using this form via email to, or via fax to 646.880.9347. Please note that the timing of donor advised grants has no effect on your 2016 charitable income tax deductions since, for tax purposes, your charitable contribution was deemed completed at the time it was contributed to your donor advised fund.

Qualified Charitable Distributions from IRA

On December 18, 2015 the President signed the PATH Act permitting individuals to roll over up to $100,000 from an individual retirement account (IRA) directly to a qualifying charity without recognizing the assets transferred to the qualifying charity as income. The law uses the term “qualified charitable distribution” to describe an IRA charitable rollover. A qualified charitable distribution is money that individuals who are 70½ or older may direct from their traditional IRA to eligible charitable organizations. The provision has a cap of $100,000 for charitable distributions from individual IRAs each year. Individuals may exclude the amount distributed directly to an eligible charity from their gross income. Please note that a distribution to a donor advised fund will not qualify for this special treatment. You can read an analysis of what this might mean for you if you are 70½ or older and thinking of a charitable distribution from your IRA here. Please call Senay Ataselim-Yilmaz at 646.530.8978 if you’d like to contribute IRA assets.

One in a Million.

A Colorful Story by NC Murthy

As a very active businessman in his late fifties, I can easily say that I’ve been through a great deal in my life. But when I think of it, none of the things I have been through have challenged me as much as writing this story- the story of my beloved wife, Canan. Even though I know that I cannot fit our life together in a few paragraphs, and most probably I won’t be satisfied by the language as I try to find the perfect words to describe her, I will do my best to introduce you to an amazing woman who continues to inspire me every single day.

I’ve met Canan in 1991 in Detroit at the company where we both worked. It took me only a few weeks to admire her independent, hardworking and honest nature. She came from a middle -income family, but never let limited financial means hold her back. As she believed education was the only way for her to move forward in life, she dedicated herself to her studies. She went to college at Middle Eastern Technical University, one of the best universities in Turkey, and came to the U.S. for the first time as an exchange student. She worked at three jobs to be able to afford her stay in the U.S. She completed her MBA at Butler University in Indiana. As a determined woman, she made her way up in the corporate world, where we met. As we worked together, we came to realize that we completed each other in many ways. We decided to become business partners, and started our own company together. In only five years, the IT staffing company we built together grew incredibly to $22 million in revenue at which point we sold it to a major public company. She was the source of our success.

Our relationship, which started as colleagues, quickly turned into a lifelong companionship. We got married in 1993, and in 1994 we welcomed our only child, Arjun. We were so happy in our own little world that we did not see what was coming. Our life took a U-turn when Canan was diagnosed with ALS, a deadly disease you’ve probably heard of mentioned before through the famous ice bucket challenge or Stephan Hawking. We were lucky that we had the means to consult to the best doctors in the world. We traveled everywhere looking for a solution and tried everything from natural treatments to innovative therapies and stem cell transplants. I even took Canan to her home country of Turkey to get her blessed by the holy figures, but nothing we did was enough to beat ALS. We had to accept this disease as part of our lives, and had focused on doing our best to improve Canan’s quality of life.

I’ve mentioned earlier how extraordinary my wife was. Well, here is another story to prove that. After the ALS diagnosis, Canan lost her ability to speak, walk, and move in a very short time, but she never lost her essence, her strength, and her will to live. We continued her treatment at home and got her a state-of-the-art computer, which enabled her to communicate with us by moving her eyes. That was all she needed to keep spreading love and joy around her. She continued to be a loving wife and a mother. She always helped Arjun with his classes, planned every meal for our family, and continued to work for our business regardless of her physical condition. She even hosted Turkish dinners for Arjun’s teachers at home because she couldn’t go to parent-teachers conferences at school. She held onto life and lived 16 years with ALS while our doctors expected her to live three years. Her dream was to be with Arjun at his high school graduation. I couldn’t be happier to tell you that she succeeded. She was very keen to see Arjun as a businessman, as Arjun himself wanted to be since he was seven years old. Arjun graduated from Babson College, the No. 1 school for Entrepreneurship in the world. I am sure she is happy and smiling down at us when we purchased a chemical company earlier this year so I can teach Arjun business.

Canan was a fascinating woman in many ways. She was incredibly hardworking, unconditionally caring, strong, and kind. She was one in a million. And not just to me. Everyone around us deeply respected and loved her. After losing her in 2012, Arjun and I wanted to do something in her name, to make her legacy live forever. As she was a strong believer in women’s empowerment, we built a kilim-weaving workshop in Van, Turkey in her name through TPF. There are no words to describe how we felt at the opening of the workshop when we saw her name on that building, which enables young women to have a brighter future. Now, Canan’s legacy lives on in each kilim these young women make.

Extraordinary October

untitledLet us introduce you to Alp Onalan, one of our Board Members who made this past October significantly impactful through his continuous support to education. Alp, who is in his early 40ies, lives with his family in Seattle and works as a software engineer at Microsoft. We’ve known him for quite some time and admired his efforts to make an impact in Turkey. Not only that Alp supports many issues through TPF through personal donations for years, but also he’s been maximizing his impact through his employer’s matching gifts.

Since 1983, Microsoft encourages its employees to give back to their communities through matching their gifts. Their Annual Employee Giving Campaign takes place throughout the year, with a special push every October. This October, Alp made the biggest difference for a cause he wholeheartedly believes in: education. For a month, he continuously spread the word about TPF and its education fund in Microsoft’s Seattle office. We couldn’t be more delighted to let you know that his efforts paid off. Alp raised over $10K from his colleagues and Alp and his two friends matched every penny! And, yes! Microsoft matched all of it which increased total contribution to TPF’s education fund to over $40K. That’s not just doubling but quadrupling. This is how Alp and his colleagues made this October extraordinary for many girls and boys in Turkey who will get a chance in education and potentially excel in life.

Once again, we’d like to thank Alp and everyone who joined him for their generosity and efforts to create a better future for our community. You can also be a TPF champion by only spreading the word and introducing TPF to your company’s corporate philanthropy program. Every effort and every contribution counts. Learn more about how to highlight TPF at your company’s annual giving campaign here.

3…2…1… and Action!

img_53441-e1448458892107-1024x683Jwan is a young man in his early 20ies who wanders the streets of Istanbul whenever he gets some free time to visit his fellow refugees. He listens to their troubles and records their stories with his old camera, which he named “the Eye of Syria.” That camera is the only possession he brought along with him to Turkey when he had to leave his hometown, Aleppo, to get away from the ongoing conflict. Since then, he’s been living and working in a clothing store in Istanbul. His workspace became his new home and his fellow employees, majority of them refugees just like him, became his new family. He’s not complaining even though he only makes 200 Euros a month to survive in one of the most expensive cities in Turkey. At least, he has a place to sleep in and he is safe with his family, he believes.

Just like any other young men, Jwan thinks about the future and has dreams. But unlike his peers, his dreams don’t include any career goals. All he wants in life is peace. He dreams of going back home where he had a simple yet a happy life surrounded by his loved ones. He wants to be able to do ordinary things he never appreciated before like going to school, discussing sports with his friends, dining with his family. And, he believes that “the Eye of Syria” will help him achieve that. He wants to make a film with his recordings to show what this war had cost them and hopes to restore peace in Syria.

We haven’t met Jwan in person but discovered his “big” dream through a short documentary, which features his life: The Boy with Camera by Ibrahim Yesilbas. It was through the New Film Fund that Jwan gained a voice and his story reached out to a broader audience. Co-founded by one of our partners, Anadolu Kultur, an Istanbul based NGOand !F (Istanbul Independent Film Festival), the New Film Fund supports the development, production and post-production of documentary film making in Turkey with a mission to encourage diversity and the free expression of diversity of voices. As the only independent platform, which provides funds to young documentary filmmakers besides the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in Turkey, the New Film Fund awards between $2,000-$10,000 for each selected project. As they support over 30 documentaries each year, they provide young filmmakers an opportunity to address the social and cultural issues that our world faces. 

The Boy with Camera is just one of the many films that the New Film Fund supports. There are many other significant stories that you can discover through them such as a documentary that investigates the results of pink taxi service in Jordan, Iran and Pakistan, which deals with the issue of violence against women (Women Only), a film that recites the story of an unknown universe in which ponies are raised as commodities of racing and gambling (The Result Will be Determined by Photo Finish), a documentary about a transgender man struggling with self-realization and acceptance (Blue ID), a film about the difficult experience of an undocumented black migrant women living in Turkey (How Much?), a documentary that ells the story of a quite unorthodox beauty pageant (A Beauty Pageant)… Take a look at the New Film Funds project under Anadolu Kultur’s page to support them in empowering independent filmmakers to give a voice to those who need one. For more information about New Film Fund and the films they support, visit their website.

Individual Giving and Philanthropy in Turkey.

TUSEV, one of our partners, recently published a report on Individual Giving and Philanthropy in Turkey. The report highlights the perception on philanthropy, trends and motivations in individual giving as well as providing a comparison on the chance in the understanding of giving back practices. Click to access the full report and infographics.