Category

Fundraising

Why Major Gifts? Why Now?

By | All Posts, Capacity Building, Commentary, Database Management, Donor Cultivation, Fundraising, Major Gift Solicitation, Prospect Research | No Comments

How many of us wish there were more hours in the day to focus on our major giving program and donors? Some of us may be one-man teams, but even those of us lucky enough to work in a fully-staffed, robust development office wish we had more time to reach out to more donors and have more meaningful conversations. Some of us don’t work on major gifts because there isn’t time and we don’t really see the need: “Why would I spend the time on major gifts if I’m getting by with annual gifts, grants, earned income, etc.?”

Good question. And below is arguably a good answer.

First, let’s reference GivingUSA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy published by The Giving USA Foundation, an arm of The Giving Institute. Of the approximately $390 Billion dollars given by Americans in 2016, 72% was given by individuals.  Add in the 8% giving through bequests (which are also given by individuals, technically) and the 7% from family foundations and the total is closer to 87% received from individuals.  That leaves only 13% given by foundations and corporations. Also, foundations are only legally required and mostly stick to a 5% mandatory distribution requirement.

Donor-Advised Funds and non-traditional giving methods allow for a myriad of possibilities and vehicles for individuals to use to invest in causes and programs about which they care deeply. It is also easier and a better use of staff resources (including time!) to cultivate and grow donors you already have, than to go out and identify new donors.  This is especially true when you look at the national statistics on donor retention. The 2017 Fundraising Effectiveness Survey Report found donor retention year-over-year averages 45%, meaning more than half of your new donors will not give a gift a second time.

A major giving program gives your donors a path to a deeper relationship with your mission and allows for greater impact through financial investment. With donor acquisition costs on the rise,  spending time examining your current donor base is a better use of time and results in a higher ROI. These individuals have already self-selected and said “yes” to you and your work at least once, but how well do you really “know” them? When was the last time your organization (or have your ever?) conducted a wealth screening? You may know who your top donors are, but do you know who are your most loyal?

To implement a major giving program, organizations should rely on the four pillars of a successful solicitation:

  1. You need a major giving case for support that clearly explains your mission and needs and expresses the impact major giving investments will have on your nonprofit.
  2. It’s imperative that we really “do our homework” and know our donors by understanding their past support, motivations to give and philanthropic goals. This is where the art and science of fundraising converge at the intersection of qualitative and quantitative knowledge.
  3. Utilizing this knowledge, we can develop personalized cultivation strategies, guided by best practices, to present the strongest solicitation possible.
  4. We need to steward our donors by identifying meaningful recognition and continuing communication.

By now, I hope you you’re thoroughly convinced individual donor prospects and major giving are elements you need in your resource development plan.  But do you still wonder if you have the time and resources to implement a major giving program your own organization?

Well, you can quit wondering.

JB+A is pleased to present a solution, in partnership with Softerware, Inc.: DonorPerfect Consulting Services Powered by Jeffrey Byrne + Associates is a 12-month, one-on-one phone and web-based consulting service that will help your organization institute major giving best practices and will offer advice crafted for each organization’s unique needs.  Expert coaching provided by us (JB+A) while utilizing DonorPerfect software and DonorSearch wealth screenings will help you identify and achieve your organization’s major giving fundraising goals.

Want to learn more?  Give me a call at 816-237-1999 or email me at KLord@FundraisingJBA.com.

Giving USA Special Report: “The Data on Donor-Advised Funds: New Insights You Need to Know.”

By | Fundraising, Giving USA, News You Can Use, The Giving Institute | No Comments

Katie Lord
Vice President

On, Thursday, March 1, The Giving Institute and Giving USA Foundation hosted a webinar to coincide with the release of its latest special report “The Data on Donor-Advised Funds: New Insights You Need to Know.”  A special panel included three industry experts on the subject: Pam Norley – President of Fidelity Charitable; Una Osili – Professor of Economics and Associate Dean for Research and International Programs, Indiana University, Lilly Family School of Philanthropy; Dave Scullin – CEO of the Communities Foundation of Texas and Mike Geary – lawyer and donor-advised fund holder.

This report is the first of its kind, revealing key insights into the creation of and grants from Donor-Advised Funds (DAFs.)  Want to hear the webcast in its entirety?  Click here

DAF Contribution Key Findings

  • DAFs continue to show annual growth – both in new funds being opened and in assets; Growth of assets in these funds is outpacing the growth of overall charitable giving – by three times the rate
  • Organizations most likely to sponsor DAFs have two characteristics: they receive large contributions and have low revenue
  • 15 organizations – consisting of community foundations, single-issue charities and national fund sponsors – hold 60% of DAF assets and make 60% of all grants

DAF Grants Key Findings

  • Education, religion and public-society benefit receive the most grant dollars from DAFs; education receives the most grant dollars
  • Granting patterns from DAFs mirror those of high net worth individuals
  • Grants from DAF are relatively stable from year to year
  • Differences between large and small DAF sponsors are nominal

After the Giving USA Foundation research was presented, Pam Norley, President of Fidelity Charitable, shared insights from the 2017 annual report regarding Fidelity Charitable’s fund holders.  Some of the myth-busting highlights of her presentation are below, including numbers from Fidelity Charitable’s Annual Report about the demographics of fund holders and the amounts of grants made each year.

  • Demographics of DAF holders (Fidelity Charitable 2017)
    • 55 years and older
    • 85% give to more than six (6) nonprofits
    • 79% volunteer with the organization receiving grants
  • DAF Grants by the Numbers (Fidelity Charitable 2017)
    • 60% of a DAF holder’s total giving comes from DAFs versus 40% from traditional assets
    • There are 9.7 grants per account annually
    • Donors grant out 24% of their assets annually from their DAFs versus 5% given from foundations
    • $4,200 is the average grant size
    • $19,000 is the average DAF account balance

In closing, Donor-Advised Funds are here to stay. They’re a great vehicle for both donors and nonprofits in making philanthropic impact.  As more research continues, it will be up to everyone to build relationships with our donors and DAF holders to maximize the benefits of this charitable giving vehicle.

And be sure to check out JB+A’s post on the continued rise of DAFs.

 

A Remarkable Act of Generosity

By | Donor Cultivation, Fundraising, Major Gift Solicitation, News You Can Use, Stewardship | No Comments

John Marshall
Senior Vice President

We have all heard about donors making million-dollar-plus gifts and the impact such generosity had on the recipient charity. Americans are clearly the most generous people on the face of the earth with million dollar gifts occurring annually in the thousands.

Like most fundraisers, I think about what truly motivates a person to give that much away and what I can do to secure such a gift for my clients. There is no doubt a worthy organization with a particularly compelling need can be successful in attracting seven-figure gifts. But, I have found over the years, that what is almost as important is taking the time to get to know your donors and paying particular attention to “the little things.”

I’ll never forget a meeting I had very early in my career with Dr. John Hanna, former president with Michigan State University and one of the most beloved figures in the history of that school. After about a 10-minute conversation he concluded our time together by giving me some sage advice: “John, whatever you do while you are here at MSU, don’t ever forget that people always come first. If you pay attention to them and show you care every bit as much about them as you do their philanthropy, well, truly wonderful things can happen.” It was a lesson I have carried with me ever since.

Some time ago, I was reminded of what Dr. Hanna had said while I was working with The Salvation Army in New York City, one of the Army’s largest divisions in the world.

In early December, The Salvation Army’s Greater New York Division holds its Annual Christmas Luncheon. The luncheon attracts a crowd of approximately 1,600 and serves as the official “kick-off” to the Army’s Christmas Campaign in New York City. It also is an event where individuals are publicly recognized for their extraordinary support to The Salvation Army. Since 1948, luminaries such as General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Catherine Marshall, Dr. Billy Graham, Helen Hayes, Bob Hope, Nancy Reagan, Rudolph Giuliani, Yogi Berra and many others have received the Army’s prestigious Pinnacle of Achievement Award.

In 1993, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, an elderly couple who had for years been very generous donors, were chosen to receive the Army’s Community Service Award. Shy of being in the spotlight, Mr. Smith chose not to attend but his wife Lois did and joined a very distinguished group of VIPs including Mrs. Margot Perot, wife of the noted philanthropist. After receiving the award, Lois spoke very humbly about being honored and simply stated that she and her husband dearly loved the Army and its work with the underprivileged.

The following year, one of the worst hurricanes in history struck Florida, precariously near the home where the Smiths spent their winters. Knowing they were in Florida, we decided to have the Divisional Commander (the Army’s equivalent to a CEO) call the Smiths just to say hello and to ask if they were safely weathering the hurricane.

Lois answered the call and was quick to express her appreciation for the Colonel’s call and to say that she was safe. She also shared with him that just two months earlier, her husband had passed away from a heart attack.

Prior to the conclusion of their conversation, the Colonel asked if he could offer a prayer for her during which Lois openly wept. When he concluded, she said “Colonel, when I return to the city could you please visit me in my home?” Of course, he agreed to do so without reservation.

Several weeks later, the Colonel and I were sitting with Lois in her beautiful and very posh Upper East Side penthouse home. In fact, being very private people, this had been the very first time a representative of the Army had been in her home.

“Colonel,” Lois said, “I can’t thank you enough for your phone call. That was a very difficult time for me and it meant so very, very much to me. I would like very much to make a gift in honor of my husband. Can you please give some thought as to how a seven-figure gift might be put to good use? I am particularly interested in something that will benefit children.”

A series of more visits, conversations with her financial advisor and a site visit to two locations in the Bronx followed.  We showed her two daycare centers that were in dire need of significant renovations. She soon became very interested in helping with these particular facilities and asked that we put together a request that would completely cover the cost of the renovations.

Several weeks later, back in her home and in the presence of her financial advisor, the Colonel and me, Lois signed an agreement outlining the specifics of her gift and how it was to be utilized.

Her gift was for $10 million, at that time the largest gift from an individual the Army had ever received in New York City.

Now, I am absolutely certain that honoring Lois and her late husband played a role in her making such an extraordinary gift. But I am just as certain the Colonel’s phone call, reaching out to her in a time of crisis, was even more of a factor.

The truly successful charities in the world are those which understand that stewardship is far, far more than just sending out a timely thank you letter. As Dr. Hanna said, “Don’t forget that people come first.”  It can make a huge difference – just ask The Salvation Army in New York City.

 

Fundraising for your Botanical Gardens: If I Can Do It…

By | All Posts, Boards + Leadership, Campaign Planning + Management, Capacity Building, Fundraising, Grants, Major Gift Solicitation, Planned Giving, Stewardship | No Comments

Eric Tschanz
Senior Consultant

When I arrived at Powell Gardens, I told the Board I could build their garden, but I was NOT a fundraiser.  As President and Executive Director, I soon realized the need for outside funding if the Gardens were going to grow and prosper. Membership programs were started, earned income streams were developed, capital campaigns were initiated and finally, endowment campaigns were begun.

Now, 30 years later, the Gardens have been built and are thriving – and I am not only Director Emeritus, I am also a fundraiser.

None of this happened overnight, and my evolution to a successful fundraiser took time, practice and guidance from other knowledgeable professionals. It started out as a task of which I wasn’t too sure and is now one with which I am not only comfortable but enjoy. So how does this fundraising success start?

Two traits you must have before worrying about the mechanics of ‘how to ask’ are 1) a passion for the project and 2) the ability to form nurturing relationships with your donors.  We shouldn’t be in this business if we didn’t have a passion for public horticulture, but it goes further with a complete knowledge and understanding of the project – whether plants, design or programming – and the ability to articulate what the result will mean for the community and the donor.

We often talk about cultivation and donor relations, but I believe it goes deeper: forming a nurturing relationship with the donor.  Although I am Director Emeritus of Powell Gardens and no longer participate in direct fundraising for the Gardens, I have past donors that still call me and invite me for coffee or lunch.  These are nurtured donors and true friends.

Yes, there are tips and tricks (if we must call it that) to the trade.  Over the years I had the great fortune to work with Jeffrey Byrne + Associates (JB+A) and hone my skills. Together we completed two successful capital campaigns for Powell Gardens.  Now, as a fundraiser I never thought I’d be, I work with JB+A in supporting public horticulture professionals like you.

Whether you are a seasoned veteran in fundraising, or just starting out, JB+A and I can help you achieve fundraising success for your gardens. You can benefit from our experience and expertise – and have fun along the way.

Want to learn more about JB+A and our fundraising services specifically for botanical gardens? Contact me here.  You can also give me a call or email me. I’d be happy to visit with you.

Eric Tschanz
Senior Consultant, JB+A
Director Emeritus, Powell Gardens
Past President, current member of the American Public Gardens Association

816.237.1999
Email Eric

Check out Eric’s credentials.

 

Questions about Donor-Advised Funds? Get them Answered Here: The Giving Institute Webcast on Donor-Advised Funds

By | All Posts, Annual Giving, Capacity Building, Current Events/News, Donor Cultivation, Fundraising, Giving USA, Grants, News You Can Use, The Giving Institute | No Comments

Until this Giving USA Special Report, there has been little aggregate information available about the granting side of the donor-advised fund equation. How much do donor-advised funds give to nonprofits annually? Which types of nonprofits do donor-advised funds support, and which types receive the most and the least from donor-advised fund grants? How have these trends changed over time?

Register now for “The Data on Donor-Advised Funds: New Insights You Need to Know,” The Giving Institute’s complimentary webcast exploring donor-advised funds – one of today’s hottest topics with donors, nonprofits and public policy experts.

Thursday, March 1
1:00-2:30pm Central

Register Here 

Expert panelists will discuss the latest Giving USA Special Report on donor-advised funds (DAFs), taking a rigorous, new and in-depth look at where DAF money goes. The webcast will address these pressing questions and offer guidance on how to incorporate this giving vehicle into your fundraising plans.

Panelists include:

  • Mike Geary, Attorney at Law, LLC, at Geary, Porter & Donovan, P.C.
  • Pam Norley, President of Fidelity Charitable
  • Una Osili, Professor of Economics and Associate Dean for Research and International Programs, Indiana University, Lilly Family School of Philanthropy
  • Dave Scullin, CEO of the Communities Foundation of Texas

The Giving Institute webcasts always include time for questions from the audience, so don’t miss out on your chance to have your most burning questions about DAFs answered!

 

Donor-Advised Funds: Stronger than Ever

By | All Posts, Capacity Building, Current Events/News, Donor Cultivation, Fundraising, Grants, News You Can Use, Planned Giving | No Comments

Heather Ehlert
Vice President of Client Services

As fundraisers and nonprofit managers, we know donor-advised funds (DAFs) have become a very popular – albeit somewhat controversial – giving vehicle in philanthropy. Their role in shaping the charitable landscape continues to grow, as evidenced by recent data reported by both commercial and community foundations about their donor-advised funds in 2017.

Fidelity Charitable, for example, has operated as an independent public charity since 1991 and currently sponsors the nation’s largest DAF program. It is also the nation’s second-largest grant maker, behind the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In its recently released 2018 Giving Report, Fidelity Charitable shared the following information and insights about the behavior of its nearly 180,000 donors in 2017:

  • There were more than 1 million donor recommended grants, a 25% increase over 2016
  • Donor recommended grants totaled $4.5 billion, a 27% increase over 2016
  • Donor recommended grants went to 127,000 different nonprofits in every state and around the world
  • Individual grants of $1 million or more grew to 505 last year, a 25% increase over 2016
  • 30,000 new donors established more than 21,000 new Giving Accounts

Fidelity Charitable also shared some of the factors behind this DAF activity:

  • Donors gave appreciated assets, such as stocks, which often allows them to give more to charity than by donating cash; non-cash assets made up 61% of 2017 contributions
  • Non-publicly traded assets, such as restricted stock, limited partnership interests and real estate valued $916 million in 2017 donations to Fidelity Charitable
  • Cryptocurrency (such as bitcoin) saw a nearly tenfold increase in usage over 2016 with $69 million in donations; this helps donors eliminate significant capital gains taxes on the appreciation while giving the full fair market value to charity

Donor-advised funds are the fastest-growing way to give in the United States, as illustrated by Fidelity Charitable data: the number of Giving Accounts held at Fidelity Charitable has more than doubled in the last decade and grew 20% between 2016 and 2017. And DAFs are not exclusively for the wealthy: the median account balance at Fidelity Charitable is $19,157, with more than 50% of the accounts having balances under $25,000. The money isn’t necessarily sitting, either. Fidelity Charitable reports donors are actively recommending grants to charities from their Giving Accounts: within five years of a $100 contribution to Fidelity Charitable, $74 has been granted to charities. After 10 years, $88 has gone to charities and only $12 remains to be granted.

Not surprisingly, 2017 saw an emphasis in donor giving from Fidelity Charitable Giving Accounts in response to natural disasters. The American Red Cross made the top of the charity recipients list and Samaritan’s Purse made the list for the first time. The Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, Oxfam and UNICEF also say increases in giving, most likely due to natural disasters, especially those that happened in late 2017. Impact investing was also noteworthy in 2017 – Fidelity Charitable made more than 4,000 donor recommended grants totaling nearly $19 million. Donors are also requesting more frequently that their Giving Account balances be invested in Fidelity Charitable’s impact-investing pool.

There are certainly clear advantages to using donor-advised funds: flexibility, convenience, investment growth, tax benefits and empowering strategic charitable giving and financial planning.

And of course, there’s the flip side to DAFs:  costs to society in tax revenue, oversight and payout requirements, treatment of sponsoring organizations versus community foundations and the overall impact on donors, nonprofits and other forms of giving.

Most importantly, nonprofits should position themselves to work with and benefit from this giving vehicle. DAFs aren’t going away. So don’t forget some basic DAF best practices:

  • Flag the DAF and gifts in your donor database
  • Recognize the donor in stewardship, not the DAF sponsor
  • Seek to engage the donor, even if the initial gift is small
  • Be sure to include DAFs in your organization’s “Ways of Giving”

Don’t miss The Giving Institute’s Live Webcast of “The Data on Donor-Advised Funds: Insights You Need to Know.”  You can expect to have your most pressing questions about donor-advised funds and how to incorporate this giving vehicle into your fundraising plans answered.

Thursday, March 1
1:00-2:30pm Central
Register Here

Giving Circles: The Rise in Social Giving and the Power of the Crowd

By | All Posts, Capacity Building, Donor Cultivation, Fundraising, Grants, News You Can Use | No Comments

Katie Lord
Vice President

If you’ve been involved with philanthropy in the past two decades or so, then you’ve undoubtedly come across a “giving circle.” This giving vehicle continues to gain momentum, as evidenced by the amount of research being done on this emerging form of philanthropy as well as media coverage of investments made by such groups. A very notable example of a giving circle is Women Moving Millions, which focuses on investing in women’s and girls’ organizations, and the Asian American Women’s Circle. A giving circle is commonly defined as a “social investment club,” or a pooled fund, through which members make grants together. Circles are typically organized around a particular issue, area of interest (such as women’s issues, quality of life, the environment) or geographic region.

What kind of impact do giving circles have on philanthropy? They’ve certainly opened up a new type of funding opportunity. In a report published in late 2017 by The Collective Giving Research Group, The State of Giving Circles Today: Overview of New Research Findings from a Three-Part Study, giving circles now number more than 1,600 (they’ve tripled in number since 2007) and have approximately 150,000 total members. Giving circle members have contributed more than $1,290,000,000 to philanthropy so far. With many giving circles being made up of individuals under the age of 40, it is safe to assume that this new form of philanthropy will continue to grow both in numbers and in dollars as Millennials and Gen-Xers begin to move into their peak earning years. Women are also more likely to engage in this type of collaborative giving, which will continue to increase access to this sub sector of donors.

Recently, I had the opportunity to join and participate in a local chapter of a giving circle geared for female givers, known as “100+ Women Who Care/Southland KC.” As the name suggests, this is a group of more than 100 women who get together on a quarterly basis for an hour-long meeting. At each meeting, three charities present for five minutes, followed by a brief question and answer period. All members who are present vote to select a “winning” organization and then all members (whether or not in attendance at the meeting) write a $100 check to benefit the winning organization. Members then nominate charities for the next quarter; three are selected but not shared with the group so as to prevent members from campaigning for their favorite organizations.

My experience was incredibly moving – it not only allowed me to be in a room with like-minded powerful women, but also to see firsthand the impact of collective giving on the organizations receiving more than $10,000. And an added benefit was that many women felt compelled to write checks to one of the other two organizations who did not win the vote.

So what does this mean for your organization and how does it help you with fundraising? First and foremost, giving circles provide you with two major benefits: a sizable new funding opportunity and most importantly, access to an emerging donor base and audience. Many circles have members give their donations directly to the organizations through online giving or traditional check writing. Others choose to preserve the anonymity of members by giving through community foundations, but still offer the opportunity to network with donors at the in-person meeting. If you receive a grant from a giving circle, many will inform you of guidelines for reapplying within a certain time period. While most will not allow for annual support, it is safe to say that giving circles are here to stay and will even increase in numbers – and should therefore be included as part of your resource development plan.

Fundraising Trends in 2018

By | All Posts, Annual Giving, Capacity Building, Donor Cultivation, Fundraising, News You Can Use, Nonprofit Marketing, Social Media, Technology | No Comments

 

Veronica Gerrity
Coordinator of Administration and Consulting

Don’t let your organization miss out on fundraising opportunities in our ever-evolving field. This month we are looking at five small-scale strategies that can be achieved through embracing technology.

  1. AmazonSmile – Make sure your organization is registered to accept gifts from your Amazon-friendly supporters. This program allows a portion of all Amazon purchases to be donated to the user’s preferred nonprofit organization, thanks to the AmazonSmile Foundation. Inform your donors of this easy way to support your organization while buying the things they need. You can register your organization here. While you are there, don’t forget to make a Wish List for your organization. Having a Wish List allows those who want to help get the best possible products for your organization’s needs. Donors can add your preselected items of need to their cart and they will be delivered to your door with no extra hassle to your donor. Advertise your Wish List and AmazonSmile profile on your website and remind donors around Black Friday and other holidays when they will be buying more things online.
  2. Crowdfunding and Giving Days – Crowdfunding projects are becoming more successful because they combine a specific fundraising goal with an urgent deadline. Campaigns in this manner have elements of fun and social sharing that create a mix with the potential to raise serious money. Social circle fundraising is becoming more common as donors who are beginning their giving are deciding where their money goes. Your organization can capitalize on social circle funding by meeting a new donor base. Don’t have a specific project to crowdfund at this time? Host a giving day for your organization and get a flood of new volunteers and first-time donors. Make sure to capture these new donors and send personalized thanks following the day of giving to reinforce your organization’s connection with them. Small and mid-sized nonprofits can have bigger impacts with less monetary commitment with these campaigns – all you need is a little social media “know-how.” Be sure to check out JB+A’s post on crowdfunding.
  3. Facebook Live and YouTube – According to Cisco, by 2019, video content will be responsible for 85% of all U.S. internet traffic. Videos allow nonprofits to have stronger connections with their donors by showing the personal side of your organization. Videos are easy to digest by the viewer and can be shared in your donors’ networks through their social platforms. Showcase your organization and what makes you different and separate from others in your community. Try hosting a YouTube or Facebook Live video to reach your donors as a thank you or progress report. Make sure to showcase your organization’s impact and unique personality. Check out additional tips for using Facebook Live.
  4. Digital Transactions – Here is another way Facebook and YouTube can help your organization fundraise. Digital payments on Social Networks, Facebook Fundraising Tools, Periscope Coins and YouTube Donation Cards are all new ways to make it easier for donors to connect and donate to your organization. With an increasingly large donor base who primarily donates via technology, now is the time to consider accepting these newer methods of payment.
  5. Let your Organization Speak – Be “in the moment” with your donors using communication via Twitter. Twitter can allow organizations to be more transparent with donors by communicating what your organization is doing day-to-day. Having your CEO or President send a message or sharing a client testimonial can help your donors feel informed and like they have an “in” to your community. Add up-to-date progress on campaigns and events to make donors feel more included and involved. Have a gala or special event occurring? Send live in-the-moment updates as your event takes place.

These trends will never replace more traditional methods of fundraising but as competition for donor attention and investment in your organization becomes more difficult, having multiple and varied ways to reach donors and allow them to interact with your organization is becoming more important. The above listed trends have many benefits – including the fact that they require minimal front-end cost and can have an added impact to your already scheduled development plans.

Moving the Needle: What Might Be Possible for Philanthropy in America?

By | All Posts, Commentary, Current Events/News, Fundraising, Giving USA, Legislative + Advocacy, The Giving Institute, Uncategorized | No Comments

Leaders in the nonprofit and fundraising sector are gathering soon, through an effort spearheaded by The Giving Institute, to begin developing a plan to help increase charitable giving in America.

American individuals, estates, foundations and corporations contributed an estimated $390.05 billion to U.S. charities in 2016, according to Giving USA 2017: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2016. Total giving rose 2.7 percent in current dollars (1.4 percent adjusted for inflation) over total giving in 2015, and giving to all nine major categories of recipient organizations grew, making 2016 just the sixth time in the past 40 years that this has occurred.

This growth in giving is good.  Yet total giving as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) continues to hover around 2.0 percent as it has for the last six years. So, The Giving Institute is coordinating discussions about a national plan to “move the needle.”

JB+A President + CEO Jeffrey Byrne, who served as Board Chair of The Giving Institute from 2015-2017, is among several nonprofit thought leaders who are part of an initial “working committee” to start dialogue about an examination of giving practices and how to increase giving while incorporating input from several people from several sectors (nonprofit, government, corporate, etc.)

Approximately two dozen people will be meeting in Dallas on February 7 to continue developing components of the plan:  focus of the work, organization as a legal entity, potential leadership and staffing, funding, research, information dissemination, federal recognition, communications and building support.

This national examination of giving practices is similar to “The Commission on Private Philanthropy and Public Needs” in 1973-1975, most commonly known as “The Filer Commission.” This historical effort was spearheaded by John Filer, chairman of Aetna Insurance, and initiated by John D. Rockefeller, III, after the Tax Reform Act of 1969 was passed.  The Commission’s report, “Giving in America,”  contained recommendations that fell into three categories: 1) proposals involving taxes and giving, 2) interaction among donors, recipients and the public – those who affect the philanthropic process and 3) a proposal for a permanent commission on the nonprofit sector. The commission scrutinized government inducements to giving and considered alternatives such as tax credits and matching grant systems. Members felt the charitable deduction should be “retained and added on to rather than replaced by another form of governmental encouragement to giving.”

There were six main objectives for the commission’s final report: 1) increase the number of people who contribute significantly to and participate in nonprofit activities, 2) increase the amount of giving, 3) increase inducements to giving by those in low- and middle-income brackets, 4) preserve private choice in giving, 5) minimize income loss of nonprofit organizations that depend on the current pattern of giving and 6) be as efficient as possible (meaning, the new levels of  contributions stimulated should at least approximate the amount of government revenue foregone in order to provide this stimulus.) thought leader and participant in this critical/revolutionary time for philanthropy.

JB+A is excited to be part of this exciting and pivotal time for philanthropy – and discovering what might be possible for philanthropy in America in the years ahead.

*Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy in America, has produced comprehensive charitable giving data that are relied on by donors, fundraisers and nonprofit leaders. The research in this annual report estimates all giving to all charitable organizations across the United States.  Giving USA is a public outreach initiative of Giving USA FoundationTM and is researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Giving USA FoundationTM, established in 1985 by The Giving Institute, endeavors to advance philanthropy through research and education. Explore Giving USA products and resources, including free highlights of each annual report at its online store at www.givingusa.org for more information.

Tax Reform is Here, but without the Universal Charitable Deduction

By | All Posts, Annual Giving, Boards + Leadership, Commentary, Current Events/News, Fundraising, Legislative + Advocacy, News You Can Use, Strategic Planning | No Comments

Through its membership in The Giving Institute (our President + CEO Jeffrey Byrne served as Board Chair for two years) JB+A is a member of the Charitable Giving Coalition (CGC). Below is the statement from the CGC on the final tax reform bill. Join the CGC in reaching out to your Congressional Representatives and U.S. Senators to let them know of the positive impact the charitable deduction has on philanthropy and your organization. 

12/20/17 – CGC DISAPPOINTED CONGRESS FAILS TO ENACT UNIVERSAL CHARITABLE DEDUCTION IN REFORM; VOWS TO CONTINUE PUSH IN 2018

As Congress moves to enact tax reform legislation, lawmakers are failing America’s charities. Instead of preserving a tax incentive that for the past century has helped build a strong and vibrant charitable sector, the final tax reform bill effectively eliminates the charitable deduction for 95% of all taxpayers, dealing a harsh blow to organizations on the frontlines of serving those most in need.

In real terms, more than 30 million taxpayers will no longer be able to deduct their charitable gifts, which will translate to a decline of more than $13 billion in charitable contributions annually. This decline represents between 4% and 6.5% of contributions according to studies by Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University and Tax Policy Center.

Along with leaders from charities across the country, the Charitable Giving Coalition has spent the past year urging members of Congress to address the negative impact on giving that will be triggered by increasing the standard deduction. Several Republican and Democratic lawmakers recognized this reality and its negative consequences. Unfortunately, despite clear and convincing evidence that the plans as introduced will reduce giving, the final tax bill does not include a “fix,” such as a universal charitable deduction for all taxpayers who will take the standard deduction. A universal charitable deduction would not only help recoup the anticipated loss of charitable contributions, but would also promote fairness by allowing all taxpayers to deduct their contributions.

The CGC recognizes that the final tax reform bill maintains the charitable deduction for the limited number of taxpayers who will continue to itemize. The bill also makes two positive adjustments for those taxpayers. First, it allows itemizers to deduct charitable contributions of cash up to 60% of their adjusted gross income (AGI), increasing that limitation from the current 50% level. Second, it repeals the Pease limitation, which had reduced the value of itemized deductions for higher income taxpayers.

While these changes are positive adjustments for the charitable deduction, they will, in no way, make up for the limited availability of the charitable deduction and the loss of billions of dollars in charitable contributions annually.

The stark reality for most charities is that, as government budgets continue to shrink, especially for social services and other programs that benefit communities, charitable contributions are a critical lifeline. Given this reality, it is extraordinarily short-sighted to limit incentives for private contributions to charity. Charitable contributions and the charitable tax deduction are critical for organizations doing vital work in our communities, particularly the small, local charities and congregations already being run on a shoe-string budget that are likely to be hardest-hit by reduced giving. Losing 4-6.5% of their annual budgets will be devastating to these charities and to the vulnerable communities they often serve.

The CGC is deeply committed to pursuing a universal charitable deduction when Congress reconvenes in 2018. In recent months, a groundswell of support has grown among both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate and House. Several members demonstrated they understood the implications on charitable giving of tax reform proposals. And, they acted, introducing both legislation and amendments during consideration of the tax bill. The CGC is deeply grateful for Members’ outspoken support and will build on this momentum to expand the charitable tax deduction to all American taxpayers.

To learn more about the CGC, visit protectgiving.org

See more analysis of tax reform from Dr. Patrick Rooney with the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.