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Using Your Home & The Inauguration For Charity

This is the time of year when Rick Rose likes to make a donation to his favorite charity. But he's been out of work for a few months, and while he's in a graduate program at Johns Hopkins University, he figured he might have to skip this year's charitable gift.

But then came all those stories about people trying to make a bundle by renting out their homes to out-of-towners coming in for Barack Obama's inauguration. Rose had a light bulb moment:

"I'd seen a lot of the ads, but I hadn't seen too many stories about people actually getting the money they were asking for," he says. "So I thought, maybe I could make my donation this way."

Rose, 43, put an ad up on Craigslist offering his Logan Circle apartment for five days to someone who would be willing to make a donation to One in Ten, the Washington non-profit that runs the Reel Affirmations film festival, which features movies about gay themes.

Voila--A woman from California responded and the two worked out a deal. She'll make a $3,000 contribution to One in Ten, and Rose will move to a friend's house for a few days while the Los Angeles woman and her friend from New York enjoy the inauguration and a vacation on stately 13th Street NW.

"It's been a hard year for non-profits in general and in particular for arts organizations," says Rose, who has worked in communications for non-profits for many years. "This was an easy way for me to generate a donation with no out-of-pocket expenses, to support a local D.C. nonprofit that's struggling in this economy."

Attendance at the Reel Affirmations festival was actually up this year, but corporate sponsors and high-end donors have been harder to find, so new sources of support are critical. That's the same picture many other local charities are painting, and Rose has found a great way to cut through the inauguration hype and create something of value.

Despite all the hoopla about megabucks rentals during the inauguration week, the fact is that most of the wild asks you see on Craigslist are not generating much in the way of offers. If you're ready to ratchet down your dreams of mad profits and want to instead help out a local charity by renting out your apartment to a willing donor, please come ahead here on the comment board and tell us your story.

By Marc Fisher |  December 12, 2008; 8:13 AM ET
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Even for those not as generous as Mr Rose, they could offer their house/apartment for a smaller amount that would go to them and the remainder to charity. Everyone benefits--the " landlord", the out of town renter-- who gets a place to stay and a charitable deduction-- and some charities. How's that for change !

Posted by: jmsbh | December 12, 2008 11:12 AM

I have also been thinking of doing this, but was going to wait until closer to the date. I live in Arlington and am not sure how attractive my place would be.

On the other hand, a charity I am active with, DC Books to Prisons, and with which I know you are familiar, does great things with the money, in my opinion. For a mere $2.40 (or more if the books are heavier), we can send a package of books that mean the world to some poor sap in Texas (or wherever). So, I hope to give it a shot.

Posted by: elbows1 | December 12, 2008 12:32 PM

Who would get to write off the donation?

Posted by: johng1 | December 15, 2008 8:59 AM

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