During the Trump administration’s tumultuous first 100 days, U.S. charitable giving patterns changed, in some instances significantly, according to an analysis by Charity Navigator.
The president’s tax plan, rushed out April 26, got a cool reception from tax lawyers interviewed by The Chronicle of Philanthropy who said the plan was potentially damaging to nonprofit organizations that rely on charitable donations.
Charity Navigator, an online charity evaluator and itself a 501(c)(3) entity, said in a statement that during the past year, upward of 10 million people had read its ratings and evaluations of charities before making donations. Many donated directly from the site.
Last week, the organization released a review of donations made on its site between Jan. 20 and April 20, and compared those with donations made during the same period in 2016.
Certain charities experienced dramatic increases:
American Civil Liberties Union, up 8,000%
Southern Poverty Law Center, up 1,400%
Planned Parenthood, up 1,000%
American Refugee Committee, up 645%
Environmental Defense Fund, up 500%
At the same time, the review found that donations made on the site did not increase across all social action cause categories. Giving to some health- and disease-related organizations was flat or slightly lower than in 2016.
A recent report found that a big majority of U.S. grant makers expected philanthropy to play a significant role in society as a result of recent changes in Washington.
Lack of Specifics
Tax experts told The Chronicle that while the administration promised to keep the charitable deduction intact, other proposed changes in the tax code appeared to be at odds with the goals of preserving tax breaks for donations.
For one, an increase in the standard deduction would significantly limit the number of people who take a charity write-off. Only the richest 5% of Americans would have a tax incentive for making charitable gifts.
Many tax lawyers were particularly troubled that the tax plan was released before the administration had hired key tax policy officials at the Treasury Department and the IRS who ordinarily would provide input in crafting tax policy.