By Sarah Ruef-Lindquist, JD, CTFA
We love June, don’t you? Temperatures are warmer, flowers are blooming, and this year especially, many people are getting out and enjoying each other’s company and all that Maine has to offer with understandable pent-up enthusiasm.
Every year in June, the news includes the annual report about charitable giving in the US. The GivingUSA Foundation publishes GivingUSA with data about charitable giving activity in the prior year, based on income tax return data. The news has been positive year-on-year for a long time now.
Will it be for 2020?
As a preview Marketwatch reported interesting giving behavior during the early pandemic months of 2020: They reported that 2020 got off to a great start, but then as the pandemic hit, giving plummeted.
Then, it rebounded. A lot. At a time when millions of Americans were losing their jobs and could not make rent or mortgage payments.
It would seem there was a swift recognition of the challenges being faced, and generous response to help meet the need. “Some people even donated their stimulus checks. Protests over racial injustice last summer spurred another outpouring of donations.”
Using data provided by Blackbaud from a large and representative sample of non-profits “Not only did overall giving increase, but so did the average size of people’s donations, increasing to $737 from $617 in 2019.”[i]
According to prior GivingUSA reports, US charitable giving totaled for 2019 was $450 billion. 2018 was $428 billion. 2017 was $410 billion. 2016 $390 billion. See a trend here?
Neither Blackbaud nor Marketwatch try to predict what the total giving will be for 2020, but instead await the June 15, 2021 release of that data by GivingUSA. We will, too.
We are almost half-way through 2021. What could help boost giving in 2021? The stock market is nearing record highs and those are always opportunities to consider charitable gifts of appreciated securities, to reduce capital gains exposure, or to create charitable remainder trusts to provide income and immediate tax deductions while deferring and reducing gains exposure.
As congress considers further changes to income tax laws, there are several pending provisions of interest including a possible charitable remainder trust option for up to $100,000 of qualified charitable distributions from IRA’s (these had previously been limited to only outright gifts to charity). Stay tuned about those.
There are many reasons to be optimistic about charitable giving in the US. As you renew in-person meetings with your supporters, we hope they are as rewarding and productive as ever.
[i] Blackbaud’s analysis was based on its 8,833 nonprofit clients, which took in a total of $40.7 billion in donations in 2020. That’s only one slice of the giving pie in the U.S, where there are roughly 1.5 million nonprofits, but the Blackbaud data set is the largest sample size of giving and is representative of the nonprofit sector as a whole, a spokeswoman said.