Starting conversation about charitable giving important


This spring, The Philanthropy Outlook predicted Americans would increase gifts to charity by nearly 5 percent both this year and next.

So far this year, the Community Foundation of Jackson County is seeing an uptick in giving, as it did last year.

That prediction and the foundation’s experience mirror a trend in Americans giving to charities, one that continued during 2014, according to a June report from Giving USA and the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Americans donated an estimated $358.38 billion to charitable organizations last year, including more than $700,000 to the Community Foundation of Jackson County.

The national level of giving increased 7.1 percent in current dollars, and, when adjusted for inflation, outpaced the $355.17 billion donated in 2007, just before the recession triggered a downturn in giving, according to “Giving USA 2015: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2014.” The report is published by the Giving USA Foundation. The report is researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

The Community Foundation of Jackson County saw $702,719 in donations during 2014, encouraged in part by the Lilly Endowment. The Indianapolis-based foundationlaunched its GIFT VI initiative in August 2014, making millions available in match dollars for the Hoosier state’s community foundations. The program allotted $500,000 for the Community Foundation of Jackson County.

We reported in May that the foundation qualified for the full match through new gifts and pledges totaling $540,862. Many of those new gifts and matching dollars are already at work earning income to benefit our community.

Grants and scholarships awarded by the foundation totaled $299,885 last year. They should top more than $328,000 this year, and our grant-making abilities should increase in 2016 and in 2017 as a result of the GIFT VI initiative. Market performance will play some role in that, of course.

Across the country, donations from all four sources that make up charitable giving — individuals, corporations, foundations and bequests — increased during 2014, the Giving USA report states:

Individual giving increased 5.7 percent to $258.51 billion.

Foundation giving increased 8.2 percent to $53.97 billion.

Bequest giving increased 15.5 percent to $28.13 billion.

And corporate giving increased 13.7 percent to $17.77 billion.

Three of those sectors were important partners for the Community Foundation of Jackson County last year. Through the GIFT VI initiative alone, 208 individuals, businesses and foundations contributed to our success.

A summary of the Giving USA report really didn’t discuss something that I’m curious about, something that I’d appreciate hearing from you about: Motivation. What motivated Americans to give more last year? What motivated you to give to charities here in Jackson County? What might motivate you to give to the funds administered by the Community Foundation of Jackson County or to perhaps even start your own fund?

I invite you to share with me your giving motivations. Let’s have a conversation. Let’s see how we can help improve life here in our community. Give me a call, send an email or stop by the foundation office at 107 Community Drive in Seymour.

Dan Davis is president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Jackson County. The foundation administers more than 140 funds with assets of more than $10 million. For information about how you can make a donation to any of the funds administered by the Foundation or how you might start a new fund, call 812-523-4483 or send an email to Davis at [email protected].

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