Webinar Recap: We Have the Giving USA Data. Now What? with Laura MacDonald

On June 17th, the day after the Giving USA 2019 Report was released, we hosted the 6th webinar in our Nonprofit Thought Leadership Series: We Have the Giving USA Data. Now What? In this session, Laura MacDonald, Vice-Chair of the Giving USA Foundation and Founder of Benefactor Group, helped us understand what happened in 2019 and showed us how to use the information to elevate. She provided insights into trends about who gives and where they are giving and gave us a set of tools and tactics to make sense of it all and apply it to real life.


Check out some of the Q&A’s from the live webinar below, and watch the full webinar recording here.


Q: Does any of the information speak to donor age groups? Are individual donors older, younger etc? Also, sectors, do they have age ranges?

LM: The Giving USA data does not specify the age or generation of donors. However, the chapter on “Giving by Individuals” does cite several studies into donor behavior by generation, gender, and race. I encourage you to review it, as well as the chapter that pertains to your particular sector. 


Q: Healthcare giving went up about 8%. Do you think it will rise to double-digit growth during the pandemic and beyond – Will this be a high growth area?

LM: It would be speculative to say at this point. Keep in mind that–even as we see an outpouring of support for healthcare workers and research–we may find that there is a larger number of gifts, but not necessarily more money donated unless high net worth households resume making transformational gifts in support of health. 


Q: If we use this data to plan our next year, how do we account for COVID? I know this report is about a look backward, what qualified predictions exist for fundraising in the COVID-19 world (2020)?

LM: Many organizations are building budget models that incorporate factors such as the impact of the Great Recession on charitable giving (considering overall giving, giving to their sector, and giving to their specific organization). Some are also looking at the impact of natural disasters and the phenomenon of “rage donations:” such as those seen after the last general election. There is no clear “road map” for these unprecedented times, but the impact of these historic events on past giving can be analogous. 


Q: In terms of giving vehicle tracking, is there any way to estimate how much money has moved from individual –> foundation –> organization? Wouldn’t that possibly be misrepresented or double-counted?

LM: The team at Indiana University is very careful to avoid double counting gifts that pass through foundations, and report only the “net”. There is a summary of the study methodology at the back of the Giving USA 2020 book. You may also want to consult data provided by CANDID for foundation-specific analysis. 


Q: Are we seeing continued impact from tax-law changes?

LM: The TCJA was complex legislation. While we are gaining a clearer picture, we are still awaiting final data from the IRS, Philanthropy Panel Study, and other sources. Nevertheless, we can see that TCJA did have a lasting impact on the share of households that itemize deductions. There has been a drop in the number of households that make charitable gifts, and it’s likely that we will eventually conclude that the TCJA was one cause.

More recently, the charitable provisions in the CARES Act, and perhaps the proposed legislation to restore a charitable deduction for all taxpayers, may tip the scales back in favor of giving.  


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