Foundation giving increases

Americans — including many of us here at home in Jackson County — donated an estimated $427.7 billion to U.S. charities last year, according to “Giving USA 2019: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for 2018.”

Grant dollars awarded from foundations, including the Community Foundation of Jackson County, increased in 2018 from a year earlier.

Overall, donations came in the form of charitable giving from individuals, bequests, foundations and corporations, according to the report, published by the Giving USA Foundation, a public service initiative of The Giving Institute. The report is researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

Total charitable giving rose 0.7% measured in current dollars over the revised total of $424.74 billion contributed in 2017. Adjusted for inflation, however, total giving declined 1.7%.

Rick Dunham, chair of Giving USA Foundation, said in a news release that Americans continued their generous support of charitable institutions in 2018 despite a challenging, complex set of circumstances, citing “shifts in tax policy and the volatility of the stock market.”

The report states that a “number of competing factors in the economic and public policy environments may have affected donors’ decisions in 2018, shifting some previous giving patterns.”

Growth in personal income for many Americans may have led some to donate more, while declines in the stock market may have dampened the giving of others.

One shift in 2018 giving is the drop in the number of individuals and households who itemize various types of deductions on their tax returns. This anticipated shift came in response to the federal tax policy change that doubled the standard deduction. More than 45 million households itemized deductions in 2016. Numerous studies suggest that number may have dropped to 16 to 20 million households in 2018.

The report does not note, however, whether those who dropped out of the ranks who itemize also stopped or reduced giving. The answer to that question may take a while to discern.

Amir Pasic, the dean of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, said with many donors experiencing new circumstances for their giving, it may be some time before the philanthropic sector can more fully understand how donor behavior changed in response to those forces and timing.

“Growth in total giving was virtually flat,” Pasic said. “Contributions from individuals and their bequests were not as strong as in 2017, while giving by foundations and corporations experienced healthy growth.”

Giving by foundations and giving by corporations were buoyed by the strong run of the stock market in the past few years, the report states. The overall U.S. economy was relatively strong in 2018, lifted by the robust performance of many of the economic factors that affect giving, such as a 5 percent increase in disposable personal income and 5.2 percent growth in the GDP, both in current dollars.

Giving from the Community Foundation of Jackson County reflects that national trend. The foundation awarded $534,416 in grants during 2018, an increase from $365,602 in 2017.

Among grants approved by the foundation in 2017 and 2018 were impact grants that are assisting the fight against poverty and substance abuse and providing match dollars for the historic Joe Jackson Hotel preservation project in Vallonia, the Jackson County Canine Shelter project in Brownstown and the One Chamber streetscape project in Seymour.

Dan Davis is president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Jackson County. The foundation administers more than 200 funds with assets of more than $11 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 Dan Davis at [email protected]. Send comments to [email protected]com.to the Foundation in 2018 totaled $958,059, an increase from $598,545 in 2017.

A generous matching program from Lilly Endowment Inc. powered part of that increase. The GIFT VII match program led to the creation of six new community funds and gifts into eight existing community funds and earned a $500,000 matching grant from Lilly Endowment.

Across the nation, giving by foundations represented 18 percent of all charitable dollars given in 2018, which Rachel Hutchisson, chair of The Giving Institute, described as an “unprecedented dollar amount and an unprecedented share of total giving.”

“These results highlight the importance of institutions to the philanthropic landscape and serve as a reminder that different types of approaches to philanthropy are vital for strengthening and expanding the field, especially in complex years like this one,” she added.

We agree the foundation plays a vital role in important work taking place across Jackson County. But we also value, understand and appreciate the giving of our donors. Without the generosity of those individuals, organizations and businesses, our work could not take place.

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By the numbers

2018 giving by sources (% increases and decreases are adjusted for inflation)

Giving by individuals totaled an estimated $292 billion, declining 1.1% in 2018, a decrease of 3.4%.

Giving by foundations increased by an estimated 7.3%, to $75.86 billion in 2018, an increase of 4.7%. Data on foundation giving are provided by Candid (formerly known as the Foundation Center).

Giving by bequest totaled an estimated $39.71 billion in 2018, remaining flat with 2017, a 2.3% decline.

Giving by corporations is estimated to have increased by 5.4% in 2018, totaling $20.05 billion, an increase of 2.9%.

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Dan Davis is President & CEO of the Community Foundation of Jackson County. The Foundation administers more than 200 funds with assets of more than $11 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 Dan Davis at [email protected].