Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Race to the Finish!



If my present prognostications hold 2016 will be a banner year for philanthropy in at least four  ways:

1.  The $375 billion contributed in 2015 will be surpassed.

2.  Foundation philanthropy, a modest percentage of all giving, is nonetheless an important trend-setter. Many large, medium and small foundations are now beginning to see that there is is  no such thing as "no overhead." Nonprofits incur annual, routine operating expenses for labor (the greatest cost); occupancy; materials, and often, debt service. The idea that only supporting "program" (read labor and materials) is somehow more efficient and effective than general operating support is gaining traction. Finally.

3.  My view: Neither major party candidate is going to disturb the charitable contribution deduction, throat clearing noises in Congress to the contrary.

4.  Donor advised funds will continue to grow apace. Depending  on your perspective this may or may not be a good thing. The good thing is that it has brought many new high net worth people into philanthropy (not necessarily altruistically. But still.) This The not-so-good result is that much of that money sits, tax-free and tax-deductible to the donor, undistributed to charities.

This election is a dreadful distraction from our country's real problems, for example, the relentless intractability of  poverty in the world's wealthiest nation. Fueled  by network and cable TV whose interests in creating tension and protracting the agony so they can sell us more stuff is not pretty.


Despite that, the generosity and optimistic spirit of the American people continues to amaze and inspire me and keeps me at this work. What I have learned from my fellow Americans is that  the world can indeed be a better place.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Contributions rise 4% from 2014 to 2015

Giving USA Foundation today (June 14, 2016) reported that in calendar 2015 $373.25 billion was contributed to charity in the US. Gifts from living individuals, and bequests, remain the single largest category of combined support at 80% -- consistent with decades of past reporting. Bequest giving is likely underreported because many estates are too small to be taxed and therefore don’t show  in the IRS data on which Giving USA depends.







 

Religious giving continues to lead the way as the largest recipient of charity at 32%. But over time religious giving has been declining. Data aside what the numbers tell us is first that US philanthropy is historically robust; even in hard times (2008-9), philanthropy dips less than other sectors of the economy. Second, Americans may or may not be more generous than others; that is not quantifiable. But for sure US taxpayers subsidize giving through the charitable deduction. In most economies, people get more back from their governments in services, support of health, education, welfare, the arts and so on in exchange for the higher taxes they pay. Accordingly, in this nations, there is less incentive to make charitable donations. In recent years, in many key economies, this has changed as governments have been pulling back on traditional support.



Though there is no reliable giving data yet for 2016 this year, our market sense is that this will be a strong year for charitable giving. May it come to pass.

Monday, March 14, 2016

CROSS BORDER PARTNERS

The Oram Group is pleased to announce that The Cagney Company,  EngagedIn  and Oram have created CROSS BORDER PARTNERS to enhance our global services to nonprofit organizations.

Cagney (www.the cagneycompany.com) works primarily in the US, but  is expanding globally.  Oram, has also had extensive overseas experience working for clients in India, Israel, Thailand, the Philippines, United Kingdom Central America and the Caribbean. Consultancies generally fall in two categories:  organizations seeking to raise funds in the US,  Europe and South Asia, working directly with NGOs building fundraising competency in their own nations.

EngagedIn (www.engagedin.net), is led by Simona Biancu and Alberto Cuttica. Based  in Milan, Italy it provides services covering all aspects of fundraising. The company works primarily  in Europe.


The Cagney Company +1        480 553 7653
The Oram Group         + 1        212 889 2244
EngagedIn                    +39      340 277 8876

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www.engagedin. net

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Mark of Philanthropy


 





Much ink has been spilled in reality and metaphorically on the matter of  Mark Zuckerberg's and Priscilla Chan's $45 billion decision to invest $45 billion in an LLC that will be used to start innovative enterprises and make charitable gifts. What remains to be seen, of course, is what that giving will mean to charities  -- and when. I'm neither holding my breath not will I be much surprised if a trickle and then a stream of giving starts pretty soon -- augmenting the gifts the couple already makes.

I am far  more  interested in two other things Mr. Zuckerberg has done. First he took paternity leave  on the birth of their daughter. That sends a message to US business relatively few of whom actually encourage or countenance such leave-taking. I have  no idea how widespread the practice is at Facebook but the idea matters. It seems  more real than Marissa Mayer, Yahoo's CEO, building a nursery next to her office. Who else at Yahoo could do that?

The second thing is Mr. Zuckerberg's vision of a wider web as reported in today's Financial Times (January 11, 2016). Partnering with smart phone operators in 37 developing countries free internet access will be made available; a simplified Facebook app will provide access to either, news and health; and there will be an option to upgrade for a fee. This is an example I suppose of potentially doing well bodying good. The cynics will focus on that; others  of us will see a great ides: simple, workable and reaching out to the 4 billion people who now have no internet access.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

THE CHARITABLE TAX DEDUCTION

On March 11, Prof Linda Sugin of Fordham University wrote a provocative op-ed in The New York Times, "Your Name on a Building and a Tax Break TooRe--thinking Taxes and David Geffen's Gift for Avery Fisher Hall."  The thrust of her piece is that a donor’s name on a building should be treated as a major return benefit to that donor and therefore the gift's deductibility should be reduced by the "value" conferred, in this instance $15 million, the amount the Philharmonic paid the Fisher family to surrender the name.

As a career nonprofit fundraiser, I salute Professor Sugin's attempt to encourage even more philanthropy and tax justice, and I reject her well-intended proposal to do that through changes to the charitable tax code. She theorizes that future philanthropists would give more if current ones were incentivized to forego or foreshorten a naming opportunity in appreciation for their gift - or in exchange for it, as Sugin has it. 

For most nonprofits, creative presentation of untaxed "intangible" benefits for bigger gifts--with recognition being the most powerful--represent success or failure. In practice, many institutions are already encouraging short-term naming opportunities, for just the reasons Sugin gives. Would they be helped with new laws? Be careful what you wish for. First, limits on naming terms won't work with some (desperately needed) prospects, and second, why stop there? Once the IRS is allowed to start valuing intangibles, look out. That is my main point. Clear and just as it may seem, there is no little fix and it won't stay put. As federal codes and then each state attempt to place a taxable value on a wide range of ever-creative intangible recognition benefits, all representing different circumstances, the process risks introducing serious confusions and complexities, and, I'd predict, vigorously renewed attempts to eliminate the charitable deduction altogether. Confusion and complexity depress giving in a charitable heartbeat. 

-- Marilyn Bancel






The O


Friday, January 9, 2015

MARILYN BANCEL REJOINS ORAM




MARILYN BANCEL has rejoined The Oram Group as partner and director of our San Francisco-based West Coast office, following two and a half years as in-house development director at CuriOdyssey Museum, a former Oram client

She has long been active with the Association of Fundraising Professionals Golden Gate Chapter, for which she has served as board member and officer and as chair of various programs and events, serving in 2000 and 2009 as co-chair of National Philanthropy Day. Marilyn is a recipient of the chapter’s Hank Rosso Outstanding Fundraising Executive Award (2002). In addition to consulting, Marilyn has been Adjunct Professor at the University of San Francisco where she has taught Capital Campaigns and Major Gifts in the College of Professional Studies, Institute of Nonprofit Management. She is author of the long-popular workbook, Preparing Your Capital Campaign (Jossey Bass/Wiley 2000).

Marilyn’s current client focus includes all facets of the work needed to position an organization to conduct major gift fund-raising and campaigns — feasibility and planning studies, organizational analysis, board development, prospect engagement, and strategic or institutional planning. In addition to CuriOdyssey other clients have included San Francisco Girls Chorus, World Arts West, Boys and Girls Clubs of San Francisco, California Academy of Sciences, Glide Foundation, Headlands Center for the Arts, Human Rights Campaign, Peninsula Interfaith Action, National Foster Youth Action Network, Bar Association of San Francisco, Raphael House, Synergy School, Spirit Rock Meditation Center, University of California Press Foundation, Population Action International, United Religions Initiative, and many others.    


Prior to joining Oram, Marilyn worked for fifteen years as an institutional fund-raiser—as director of development for The Exploratorium, a museum of science, art and technology - and an Oram client served  by Oram partner  Hank Goldstein. She was also director of development for The Oakland Symphony; and as founder and executive director of East Bay Performance, Inc., publisher of the bi-weekly journal Bay Arts Review. Before entering the non-profit field, she lived for three years in Turkey where she operated an 80-person cottage craft and clothing export business.

Friday, November 7, 2014

"New Donor Generation Stimulates U.S. Giving"

... Sayeth the The New York Times today, November 7th.

This meaningless headline tops a two-column story asserting that "charitable giving is back in a big way." But is it? Yes it has improved since the recession. Those years hit the sector hard and there has been a modest recovery. And for that we should be grateful because no profits, especially those in the human services field, need every cent they can generate, particularly operating funds.

I don't  know what "new donor generation" they're talking about. Zuckerberg's $25 million gift to the CDC to "fight" Ebola is certainly significant especially because the US charitable response to Ebola has been dismal; the big relief agencies have been mum. Only Doctors Without Borders has been a consistent voice.

As a percentage of GDP giving remains locked at around plus or minus 2%; that hasn't changed for as  long as records have been kept. And the slowest part of the charitable sector to recover has been individual giving, described  by the Times as "the biggest drag." Many people think that foundations and corporations are hugely account for most of the $335 billion donated last year. But in fact the greatest percentage of giving is from living individuals. Internet giving is marginal; social media's impact on giving has been modest at best.

We are certainly  in a better place than we were a few years ago. Between now and year end charity will generate around 30-40% of its total annual giving revenue. We will know within a few months whether US charitable giving is inching up or really rebounding.