Press Release – Examiner – Charitable giving in upswing

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Matt Beem
President and COO
Hartsook Companies, Inc.

Charitable giving in upswing

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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Independence, MO – It’s official: Our desire to help others is stronger than the recent years’ economic uncertainty.

We’ve hoped that would be the case since last June, when Giving USA released its report on charitable giving in 2010. It revealed that U.S. taxpayers gave $290 billion to nonprofit organizations in 2010, four percent less than the $303 billion they gave in 2009.

In the 12 months since the June 2011 report was released, those who raise money have intuitively sensed things are picking up. Multi-year pledge periods have gotten longer. Foundations that temporarily suspended gifts to capital projects are again funding such initiatives.

Earlier this week, Giving USA released its 2012 Giving USA Executive Summary. It details 2011 charitable giving.

The report confirms that U.S. taxpayers gave $298 billion to nonprofit organizations in 2011, three percent more than the $290 billion they gave in 2010. What’s more, it appears that the two-year decline in charitable giving that started in 2009 has turned around.

Within the numbers, giving by individuals increased 3.9 percent, giving by bequest increased 12.2 percent and giving by foundations increased 1.8 percent in 2011. Corporations gave the same amount in 2011 that they did in 2010.

Fundraisers like such trends. In addition to a warming climate for progress, they affirm that several truisms of philanthropy continue to drive giving.

The first donor is essential. Whether a nonprofit organization is embarking on a capital campaign or raising money for programs, the first gift is the most important one. It sets the tone for others’ giving and sends a clear signal about the nonprofit organization’s importance and credibility.

We give to organizations and causes that are successful. Seldom does an appeal to help an organization pay the light bill or make payroll stimulate significant giving. People support things that are moving in a positive direction. Success breeds success.

Perception is reality. With philanthropy on the uptick, many nonprofit organizations that had held plans for programmatic and capital expansion in check because they believed the economy was tepid will now move forward with confidence. Although some donors will remain reluctant to give at levels they did before 2009, nonprofits will be emboldened by this week’s report on the growth in giving.

As we reflect on the 3 percent rise in giving in 2011, it’s important not miss the news beneath the headline. Confirmation that we gave more last year than we did in 2010 is affirming and exciting, but it’s not the real story.

The message to remember is that those who gave in 2011 – a year preceded by two consecutive years of philanthropic decline totaling $17 billion – didn’t stop believing. They remained committed to the organizations they support when others gave less or not at all. They continued giving when personal financial circumstances may have made it more difficult than in previous years. And in so doing, they paved the way for the positive 2011 giving trends released earlier this week.

It will be fun to watch the nonprofit sector’s confidence in the future grow on the heels of Giving USA’s report on last year’s philanthropy. As we do so, let’s remember those who gave last year and made the good news possible.

It’s official: Our desire to help others is stronger than the recent years’ economic uncertainty.

We’ve hoped that would be the case since last June, when Giving USA released its report on charitable giving in 2010. It revealed that U.S. taxpayers gave $290 billion to nonprofit organizations in 2010, four percent less than the $303 billion they gave in 2009.

In the 12 months since the June 2011 report was released, those who raise money have intuitively sensed things are picking up. Multi-year pledge periods have gotten longer. Foundations that temporarily suspended gifts to capital projects are again funding such initiatives.

Earlier this week, Giving USA released its 2012 Giving USA Executive Summary. It details 2011 charitable giving.

The report confirms that U.S. taxpayers gave $298 billion to nonprofit organizations in 2011, three percent more than the $290 billion they gave in 2010. What’s more, it appears that the two-year decline in charitable giving that started in 2009 has turned around.

Within the numbers, giving by individuals increased 3.9 percent, giving by bequest increased 12.2 percent and giving by foundations increased 1.8 percent in 2011. Corporations gave the same amount in 2011 that they did in 2010.

Fundraisers like such trends. In addition to a warming climate for progress, they affirm that several truisms of philanthropy continue to drive giving.

The first donor is essential. Whether a nonprofit organization is embarking on a capital campaign or raising money for programs, the first gift is the most important one. It sets the tone for others’ giving and sends a clear signal about the nonprofit organization’s importance and credibility.

We give to organizations and causes that are successful. Seldom does an appeal to help an organization pay the light bill or make payroll stimulate significant giving. People support things that are moving in a positive direction. Success breeds success.

Perception is reality. With philanthropy on the uptick, many nonprofit organizations that had held plans for programmatic and capital expansion in check because they believed the economy was tepid will now move forward with confidence. Although some donors will remain reluctant to give at levels they did before 2009, nonprofits will be emboldened by this week’s report on the growth in giving.

As we reflect on the 3 percent rise in giving in 2011, it’s important not miss the news beneath the headline. Confirmation that we gave more last year than we did in 2010 is affirming and exciting, but it’s not the real story.

The message to remember is that those who gave in 2011 – a year preceded by two consecutive years of philanthropic decline totaling $17 billion – didn’t stop believing. They remained committed to the organizations they support when others gave less or not at all. They continued giving when personal financial circumstances may have made it more difficult than in previous years. And in so doing, they paved the way for the positive 2011 giving trends released earlier this week.

It will be fun to watch the nonprofit sector’s confidence in the future grow on the heels of Giving USA’s report on last year’s philanthropy. As we do so, let’s remember those who gave last year and made the good news possible.

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