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


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 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 (, 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
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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.