2016 has been a banner year for nonprofits, according to a report from NPR.
Fundraising is up about $35 million over last year – a big jump. Giving Tuesday alone was up an amazing 44 percent over last year, totaling $168 million in donations.
Most likely, the rise in giving is due to the strong economy.
But the other part of the story has to do with the impact of a Trump administration and the Republican Congress.
If there are big tax cuts for the rich, then the charitable tax deduction won’t be worth as much. So some accountants are advising clients to give more this year because of possible tax changes.
So far so good.
But it’s likely there will be federal spending cuts in the coming year that will directly impact the poor.
Many nonprofits engaged in providing housing, health care, and other services for the poor rely on federal funding. And many of the people who get help from those charities also rely on welfare and other forms of governmental assistance. If funding is cut, what happens to those nonprofits and the people they serve?
Even if charitable giving rises about 4 percent in 2017 as expected, it probably won’t be enough to cover the huge increase in operating costs these charities will face. Nonprofit budgets will be stretched even further. Some charities may not be able to continue. And the poor will continue to suffer.
Having a big year in fundraising is great news. But as fundraisers we have to remember that our work isn’t defined entirely by the numbers. We’re in the business of helping people.
So in an era of potentially crushing cuts in federal funding, we’ll need to respond with tighter messaging in appeals, stronger offers, more donor engagement, wider acquisition efforts, more donor acknowledgement, more reporting back to donors – in short, all the things that are proven to motivate donors to give.
Even if the coming year breaks fundraising records too, we’ll still have our work cut out for us.