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CHARITABLE GIVING—Charities Are Getting Better at Raising Money

If your good fortune in business or the stock market has you thinking about giving more to a nonprofit charity, you’re not alone.

Charitable giving has become a multibillion-dollar enterprise in this country. The nature of charity , where it comes from and where it goes , is evolving at a rapid pace.

Overall giving in 1999 rose 9.1 percent to $190.16 billion, buoyed by a strong economy and stock market, according to a recent American Association of Fund-Raising Counsel report. It was the fourth straight year of growth. Corporations gave $11.02 billion to charity in 1999, up 14.3 percent from 1998. Personal donations, which make up the bulk of gifts, rose 7.2 percent to $143.71 billion in 1999. Bequests increased 14.6 percent and gifts by foundations showed the biggest percentage gain last year , up about 17 percent to $19.81 billion.


State Emerges As Philanthropic Power

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In comparison to the rest of the nation, California is emerging as a real philanthropic power. The state’s residents give away twice as much of their time and 50 percent more of their money, according to a recent University of San Francisco survey. The survey found the state’s residents give an average of 3 percent of their salaries to charitable organizations (the national average is 2 percent). Half of the state’s residents volunteer, matching the national average, the survey discovered. And, California volunteers put in 8.5 hours a week, just over twice the national rate. Like many other businesses, philanthropy is affected by outside influences: the economy, new technology and shifts in social trends. People have more money and so are more ready to give it away, due partly to the nation’s economic boom. But there are other reasons why it’s a windfall year , so far , for philanthropy. Maybe because we’re all finally realizing the important role that charities play in our lives that we previously took for granted. Also, we’re seeing new additional gifts to community foundations, like the San Diego Foundation, where donor-advised funds are very popular thanks to stronger stock market gains. Since 1980, the number of family and community foundations has doubled in the United States, from 22,000 to 44,000, according to the Foundation Center, a New York-based organization that collects information on foundations and corporate giving. California, in particular, has seen a boom in foundations: 1,385 of them have assets approaching $48 billion and last year doled out $2.17 billion to various charities, according to a recent survey by the Southern California Association of Philanthropists.


More Youths Are Beginning To Give

Another new trend is more young people are giving. Some of them are new tycoons from the new harvest of baby millionaires, including 20- and 30-somethings who made their fortunes in the stock market or in Silicon Valley, while others are simply successful venture capitalists. Today’s younger givers are fitting social responsibility into their business lives. They are seeking empowerment and social change with a “show-me-the-goods” mentality. They’re seeking real impact on communities and increased efficiency. Appeals over the Internet are reaching a younger crowd with mixed results. Field Research Corp. recently said that fewer than four in 10 Internet users say they would feel comfortable making an online donation. Still, there are literally thousands of young people who are waiting to get involved in causes they relate to and believe in. Another interesting trend is involvement by academia. Earlier this year, the University of Southern California opened its Center for Nonprofit Management that will offer philanthropic educational courses.

Indeed, if the amount of money donated in this country has increased, so has the number of organizations seeking it.


Nonprofit Sector Grows Nationally

In the last two decades, the nonprofit sector has grown by 60 percent, to more than 1 million organizations nationally. Currently, they employ 10 percent of the national work force and contribute 8 percent to the gross domestic product. California is home to 130,000, the largest concentration in the country. Among the fastest growing charitable groups: those which help families and deal with specific causes or diseases. Also, the best-organized charities have implemented an efficient, internal infrastructure that attracts planning giving, such as legacy gifts, by major donors.

Meanwhile, more donors are looking for higher levels of accountability, including more control over the specific use of their gifts and updates on the impact of their gifts. The question being asked is: “If I give a percentage away, will it all disappear?” Donors are increasingly shifting away from traditional community chests which decide how money will be dispensed among groups in need and selecting specific causes. It’s a welcomed trend that has sparked philanthropic innovation, including sophisticated, results-oriented reporting systems and campaigns that target specific demographic profiles. For example, one national charity recently sent mail solicitations to people who have purchased goods through catalogs, figuring these people at least read their junk mail.

Regardless of any new trends, philanthropy still basically consists of two distinct parts, the givers and the receivers. The clich & #233; & #130; is true: There is no bad giving. Shaw is president and CEO of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society San Diego Area Chapter.

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