Outlook Promising for Christmas Philanthropy, says Giving Institute

Share Article

As the economy goes, so goes philanthropy, and 2006 should be a good year for charities as they send out their annual end-of-year appeals, according to experts at the Giving Institute: Leading Consultants to Non-Profits.

As the economy goes, so goes philanthropy, and 2006 should be a good year for charities as they send out their annual end-of-year appeals, according to experts at the Giving Institute: Leading Consultants to Non-Profits.

"Giving closely follows the economy, and indicators including the stock market should bode well for those groups that plan their big donation pushes at this time of year," said Giving Institute Chair, George C. Ruotolo Jr., CFRE.

While there have been no empirical studies showing that donations are highest in the fourth quarter, the Institute, parent organization of Giving USA FoundationTM, notes that many charities use the holidays - and their associated feelings of good cheer - to reach out to potential donors.

The Institute, formerly known as the American Association of Fundraising Counsel, has been tracking giving in some form or fashion for more than 50 years, and 2006 should be no exception to years past, as far as total giving goes, noted Ruotolo.

"We saw robust giving in 2005, due to the extraordinary response Americans had to the needs that came out of disasters such as hurricanes Katrina, Wilma and Rita, and the Pakistan earthquake; following on that, with the strong economy and stock market, as measured by the S&P 500, we should see giving in 2006 set a record," he said. It was estimated by Giving USA Foundation that total donations in 2005 hit a current-dollar high of $260.28 billion.

Ruotolo added that people considering giving to charity at Christmas continue to follow guidelines for good giving, just as they would in less emotional times of the year. "Do your due diligence," he said, "by visiting such Web sites as Charity Navigator and Guidestar, as well as the Better Business Bureau, to check out any philanthropy you are thinking about donating to.

"Try to become as familiar as possible with the charity you are considering. Are they credible? Does their mission resonate with you? Are their administration expenses reasonable?"

Further, he suggested checking out the percentages of dollars raised that go toward direct services vs. administration, although low administrative costs are not necessarily a true indicator of wise stewardship. "Start-up charities might have high administration costs as they get off the ground, so check carefully when studying where to put your hard-earned dollars," he said.

"Be sure and get a receipt, and make the donation in plenty of time so that checks and credit card charges get posted by Dec. 31, which falls on a Sunday this year. The IRS has tightened up its rules for proof of charitable deductions, so it's wise to get a receipt for any amount of donation.

"Check with a financial advisor to see what sort of donation makes the most sense for you personally. Is a distribution of stock appropriate? Perhaps a tangible gift, like a piece of artwork, would be appreciated by a charity you know well. Cash, the one-size-fits-all gift, can be put to immediate use by a philanthropy - just be sure and get a receipt!

"Finally, if you are considering a large gift to a charity or institution like your alma mater, talk with its development professionals to determine what type of donation would make the best match for both parties.

"In the end, what matters is that both donor and recipient feel good about the transaction," said Ruotolo. "Wise giving ensures the best outcome for all parties involved."

Giving Institute: Leading Consultants to Non-Profits, comprises the leading advisors in the philanthropic community. Formerly known as the American Association of Fundraising Counsel, the group developed the ethics and standards of practice that are used throughout the field today. Its mission is to advance the cause of philanthropy through research, advocacy and best practices. For more information about the Institute, visit http://www.givinginstitute.org.

###

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print