Humanitarian crises, natural disasters, disease outbreaks – the needs today as pressing as ever, but the way we give is evolving. Philanthropy experts say there are notable shifts brewing in terms of where, when and how Americans open their wallets to charitable causes.
Here’s what to expect in charitable giving trends in 2019.
Giving bigger donations, but less frequently
Charities and non-governmental organizations, or NGOs, are watching carefully to see if the doubling of the standard deduction under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 changes how – and how much – we give.
“Certainly, the NGOs are worried,” says Barbara Leopold, associate director of the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. “There’s a great deal of worry about it on the receiving end.”
One potential change is that people could switch to giving every other or every third year instead of annually, a tactic called “bunching” that would let them itemize in their giving years to get the deduction, and take the standard deduction in other years. “At the higher level of giving, people who were giving in calculated ways – I think they’re keeping a closer watch on what effects the law will have,” Leopold says.
Using technology to mobilize support
If you feel like you’ve seen more notifications in your Facebook feed that someone is raising money for a good cause to celebrate a birthday or other milestone, you’re probably right. “We have seen a rise in crowdfunding and peer-to-peer funding,” says Una Osili, professor of economics and philanthropic studies at Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.
This growth is a confluence of two trends, she says: the desire of donors to personalize their giving, and advances in technology that make giving, or asking others to give on your behalf, as easy as typing up a heartfelt message and hitting “enter.”
Osili says the trifecta of how giving is traditionally framed – as gifts of “talent, treasure or time” – is getting a fourth leg. “Now, some people are adding ‘testimony’ to that, using social media to get the word out around a cause or get people mobilized around an issue.”