Patrick Rooney Returns to Kansas City with Insights from Giving USA 2014 and Other Research
We are pleased to feature Trudi Galblum as a guest contributor to this month’s issue of News You Can Use. Trudi founded Galblum Communications, which specializes in writing for nonprofit organizations and also creates organization, corporate and family histories for publication in book or other formats.
Before starting her firm, Trudi was employed by the Federal Department of Health and Human Services in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, first as a research analyst in Baltimore, Maryland, headquarters supervising demonstration grants and contracts, and subsequently in Kansas City as project officer for a quality of care peer review organization.
Trudi holds a Master of Policy Sciences degree from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and a B.A. degree in English from the University of Maryland, College Park. She earned a Nonprofit Fund Raising Certificate from the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Bloch School of Business and Public Administration and graduated from the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School of Jewish Studies. She has extensive nonprofit board experience.
JB+A President + CEO Jeffrey Byrne first met Trudi when he joined the Board of Nonprofit Connect (then known as the Greater Kansas City Council on Philanthropy) in 1992. Jeffrey and the firm have worked on projects with Trudi for more than 20 years.
If anyone needed convincing that there are strong connections between trends in the economy and philanthropy, Dr. Patrick Rooney’s June 19 presentation to 160 eager listeners should erase any doubt. The program was second in the four-part 501(c) Success National Speaker Series, co-sponsored by Jeffrey Byrne + Associates, U.S Trust and Nonprofit Connect.
“It’s been a slow, steady recovery from the Great Recession to $335.17 billion total giving in 2013, not quite back to where we were in 2007, but close,” said Dr. Rooney, associate dean for academic affairs and research at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Dr. Rooney was back in Kansas City for the seventh consecutive year to share the latest findings from Giving USA 20141, along with the Bank of America Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy2 and research on million dollar gifts3.
“During recessions, giving is flat or goes down,” said Dr. Rooney. During the Great Recession, total giving went down more than 15% in inflation-adjusted dollars. Conversely, when the stock market thrives, giving goes up with it, and there is remarkable correlation between giving and behavior of the S&P 500 over the last 30 years.
Who gives to whom?
Giving by individuals in 2013 continued to outpace all other donor types. Indeed, Dr. Rooney noted that – if you combine the 7% of foundation giving that comes from family foundations and the 8% from bequests with the 72% that comes directly from individuals – total giving from individuals actually accounts for 87% of total giving.
In 2013, education (up 8.9%) and public society benefit (up 8.5%) subsectors experienced the greatest increases. Arts, culture and humanities (up 7.8%), environment (up 7.5%) and health (up 6.0%) also did well. Giving to international affairs dropped 6.7%, which Dr. Rooney believes may reflect fewer natural disasters. He interprets the 3.2% drop in corporate giving in inflation-adjusted dollars as a “give back” from 2012, when it increased 9.9% over 2011.
The big winner in 2013 was education, which realized the strongest growth, and has also realized the strongest growth in contributions since the end of the Great Recession in 2009. Higher education is also a top recipient of million-dollar gifts, which Dr. Rooney discussed at a luncheon hosted by U.S. Trust.
From 2000 to 2013, the majority of million-dollar-plus donors gave only one million-dollar gift. Of those, 47.6% of the total number of gifts and 32.7% of total dollars went to higher education.
Dr. Rooney jokes often that philanthropy is “all skewed up,” and the high net worth study of households with annual incomes of at least $200,000 and/or net worth of more than $1 million (excluding the value of their primary residence) helps make his point.
“Every year,” he said, “the majority of households give something, but a disproportionately large share of total individual giving comes from high net worth individuals.” High-net-worth donors contribute, on average, an estimated 50% of total charitable dollars annually. The top 1% gives 37% of total individual giving. The top 0.1% gives 18% and the most generous among them are entrepreneurs. “Those who create wealth,” Dr. Rooney said, “give almost twice as much as those who inherit it.”
What do the data foretell?
Dr. Rooney reserved his most pessimistic outlook for the religion subsector. For 20 years, since 1974, giving to religion was over 50% of the total. Now, it’s about a third. “There is a secular decline in religious giving,” he attributes, in part, to “the tyranny of the immediate.”
“Most churches,” he said “don’t have someone whose full-time job is to raise money. Fundraisers add immediate costs with delayed, diffuse and uncertain benefits. You have to make a leap of faith to invest in a fundraiser.”
At a special session for senior leaders, Dr. Rooney also voiced concerns about the future of healthcare philanthropy. In previous research, he discovered that philanthropy grew slowest in subsectors for which government funding was growing most rapidly. Based on those findings, Dr. Rooney expects the Affordable Care Act to have a negative impact on fundraising for healthcare.
He’s also concerned about legislative proposals – at federal and state levels – that pose threats to fundraising. Asked by the White House to study the probable impact of a 28% cap on charitable deductions, Dr. Rooney said that the most typical response he heard from donors was, “I think that’s unfair.” He described a School of Philanthropy donor who paid a generous five-year pledge in full late last December. “The pledge wasn’t motivated or altered by tax policy, but the payment definitely was,” he said.
What matters to donors?
A key finding of the high net worth study, said Dr. Rooney, was that most individuals say they give primarily because they care about the organization, with more than 60% of the largest gifts in 2011 going for general operating support. “The buzz word is impact,” he said. “How do we show impact? I love data, but some things that happen in the sector that aren’t easy to measure.”
Still, another big motivator for high net worth individual giving is organizational efficiency. Dr. Rooney believes focusing on efficiency alone is “excessively simplistic,” but nevertheless, as fundraisers, we have an ethical imperative to keep overhead within reason and we also need to be aware of its significance to donors.
And what about those Gen Xers and Millennials? Dr. Rooney’s research now includes four generations within families. From this, he reports that each subsequent generation is giving less to religion. In secular giving, they give lower dollar amounts than their parents, but the same share of income as their parents. “That’s encouraging,” he said, “but one of the challenges of engaging them is that, in spite of giving relatively small amounts, they want high touch and lots of attention.”
Asked about the much-discussed transfer of wealth, Dr. Rooney anticipates that it will be an important phenomenon. At the same time, he encourages fundraisers to pay attention now to donors’ children. “Kids have their own ideas and passions,” he said. “If we wait until they actually get the money, it’s probably too late.”
Why care about advocacy?
“People might say that the tax code has nothing to do with their philanthropy,” said Dr. Rooney. “That’s not right. When there are changes in tax rates, there are changes in behavior.”
We should care about advocacy because of proposals like President Obama’s to cap the charitable deduction at 28% for high-income taxpayers, as well as other proposals to establish a hard-dollar aggregate cap or minimum threshold for claiming itemized deductions. We should care because of proposals like House Ways and Means Committee Chair Dave Camp (R-MI) to require Donor Advised Funds to pay out all of their assets over five years.
The sector’s need to respond to such proposals was underscored by Jeffrey Byrne, President and CEO of Jeffrey Byrne + Associates, Inc., who issued this call to action to those assembled in Kansas City and relevant to nonprofits across the nation:
“We should not be afraid to confront and educate the people we hire in Washington, D.C. We have four congressmen and two senators on each side of the state line, in addition to our representatives in Jefferson City and Topeka [in Missouri and Kansas]. As nonprofit organizations, it does not endanger our charters. We have the right and duty to do education.”
At Jeffrey Byrne + Associates, we encourage you to use the insights shared by Dr. Rooney at this event and the reports upon which his presentation was based to better understand donors and the contexts in which they make decisions about their charitable gifts. In nearly a decade, there’s been no better time than now to raise much needed funds for our organizations.
1 Giving USA 2014, the longest running annual report on charitable giving in the United States, is made possible by The Giving InstituteÔ and published by The Giving USA FoundationÔ.
2 The High Net Worth Philanthropy Study, conducted by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy bi-annually since 2006, is the first scientifically-rigorous approach to studying this population.
3 Research on million dollar gifts originated by Arthur C. Frantzreb in 1963 with the Million Dollar List. Ongoing research has been compiled by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy since 2000 and is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
HOW YOU CAN USE THE INFORMATION
In introducing Dr. Rooney, Jeffrey Byrne, President and CEO of Jeffrey Byrne + Associates, Inc., encouraged organizations to use the information presented, as well as the detailed reports available at www.givingUSAreports.org/2014, in three ways:
- To educate board members so they can become better partners in your efforts to raise money.
- To develop your fundraising strategy.
- To enhance your case for support.