Why charities can’t make ends meet when Americans are giving more than ever

Fortune (October 10, 2021) – By Kat Taylor

The pandemic has birthed new ways of giving. Twitter philanthropists doled out cash while building their legions of followers. More nonprofits are accepting cryptocurrencies. Foundations have eased grant restrictions in response to hardships created by the spread of COVID-19.

As a result, and due to a strong 2020 finish by the S&P 500, individuals and foundations granted $471 billion to charities in the U.S. in 2020–3.8% more giving than in 2019. However, our nation’s charities continue to face financial hardship. One report showed that more than one-third of nonprofits throughout the country are in jeopardy of closing within two years.

Wealthy people often set the agenda of charitable giving through grants and other charitable tax vehicles. I have committed to giving half of my wealth away under the Giving Pledge, and more recently founded the Good Life Pledge in which I plan to redistribute one-third of my wealth (including handing over assets) to Black and Brown communities who have suffered decades of calculated disinvestment, health inequities, redlining, and economic decline.

Wealthy people should also not be able to write the rules of charitable giving. Every charitable tax deduction deprives the government of vital tax proceeds needed to fund public education, infrastructure, and climate change. California, for example, loses more than $340 million each year because of tax deductions given related to Donor Advised Funds (DAF) donations alone, according to CalNonprofits.

Now, I am urging our lawmakers to make charitable tax vehicles like DAFs accountable to the public. The U.S. Senate is considering bipartisan legislation that would ensure vital resources get to working charities, so the communities they serve can benefit today–when they need it most. The Accelerating Charitable Efforts (ACE) Act, introduced by Senators Angus King (I-Maine) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), restores the balance between charitable tax breaks for donors and the actual benefits to charities and the people they serve.

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