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Report: 2018 Saw Reductions in Charitable Giving

by Sarah Skillin Woodard

Giving USA 2019: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2018 came out in late June and it’s still being talked about because it is one of the only resources for determining how charitable giving has been impacted by the Trump administration’s Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017.

The report finds that when adjusted for inflation, total giving in 2018 fell 1.7 percent in year-over-year giving. There was an increase in giving by foundations and corporations, but a decline in individual giving. The authors of the report suggest that the sharp drop in the stock market at the end of 2018 as well as the doubling of the standard deduction likely led to a reduction in giving.

While gifts of $1000 or more increased by 2.6%, revenue from smaller gifts decreased. Gifts given in the $25-999 range dropped by 4.0% and those under $250 dropped by 4.4%.

A third of all donors giving $1000+ were new to that range, according to Jay Love of Bloomerang. He posits that this was done in order to get the tax credit by claiming deductions beyond the standard deduction level. Smaller gifts dropped because many tax filers merely took the standard deduction and would not see a tax benefit if donating.

Much has been written about the likelihood of seeing “bundling” of contributions so that donors might give larger gifts in one year in order to reach the standard deduction, but then not give again for a year or two. The full impact of the tax bill may not be fully felt or understood until 2020 or beyond.

Much has also been written about the possibility of a universal charitable deduction that would encourage giving, but we are still a ways off from that on the federal level. MANP and our national partners are continually looking for opportunities to raise the issue in Congress, however.

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