Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Nonprofits Struggling to Meet Service and Organizational Demands During Pandemic

A special report published in yesterday's NonProfit Times revealed that more than half (53%) of nonprofits have had greater demand for their services during the COVID-19 pandemic, and one-third are experiencing higher operating costs. Indeed, four in 10 nonprofits have cut operating costs, and one-third have pared back programs or services. 

The Times' report cites to the 2021 Nonprofit Leadership Survey Report from Grassi Advisors & Accountants. According to the report, cutbacks hit smaller nonprofits harder than larger ones, with 48% of those having costs less than $5 million experiencing cutbacks, compared with 37% of those with expenses in the $5 to $25 million range and 36% with costs greater than $25 million.

Nonprofits have explored a variety of cost-cutting and revenue-supplementing activities. Slightly fewer than one-quarter (23%) have renegotiated leases and other contractual financial obligations. Some 7% have terminated automatic payments and 15% have increased their draws on their endowments. And, 5% merged with another nonprofit during the past year.

Human capital is also being affected. Nearly one-third of nonprofits had layoffs and furloughs, while 12% reduced employee benefits. Two in 10 are operating under a hiring freeze.

Nonprofits are experiencing great difficulty in locating volunteers to make up for their lost employee time. According to the report, 22% report challenges recruiting and managing volunteers. Given COVID concerns, this is not surprising. More than two-thirds (68%) of nonprofits have at least some staff that work in close physical contact with the populations they serve. Officials at nearly that many (63%) said the outbreaks had been at least somewhat of a problem for them.

In more bad news, notwithstanding their cost cutbacks, nonprofits are not on steady financial footing: A mere 2% report having at least 12 months of liquidity, with officials at roughly one-third indicating they have fewer than three months, between four and six months or between seven and twelve months of liquidity.

The Times continues:

[W]hile fewer than half (47%) report drops in funding, that level is likely due to Paycheck Protection Program loans and other federal relief programs. Another quarter said their funding had remained steady, while only 26% reported funding increases.

Working capital lines of credit offer only finite hope for nonprofits. Overall, 63% have access to this resource while one-third do not. And of those with this resource, 27% have availed themselves of it during the past 12 months.

Nonprofits aren’t being static in the face of COVID-related challenges. More than seven in 10 (71%) implemented new technologies during the past year, although many of these likely were in support of remote or home-based staff. Another 42% created new programs and services, while 36% launched new collaborations with other organizations.

Nonprofit managers also used the pandemic as a time for organizational self-reflection: 22% began to target and serve new client populations, 22% renewed their mission statements and 12% changed their mission.

Looking to the future, The Times -- and the report from Grassi Advisors & Accountants -- opine that to be successful, nonprofits will need

Funding, funding, funding. While 60% said their top priority was attracting [and] retaining qualified people, the next three priorities bunched revenue concerns, with 56% seeking improved fundraising, 55% indicating a pressing need for more funding for overhead costs, and 54% citing the need to stabilized revenue and cash flow.

For many, however, the future will look different. Currently 43% are considering working collaborations with other organizations to deliver their services, and 21% are mulling a merger. Two percent say closure is a possibility, and barely over half – 54% – indicated none of these options are on the table.

Things certainly look different for the future.

Prof. Vaughn E. James, Texas Tech University School of Law

 

  

 

 

October 12, 2021 in Current Affairs, In the News, Studies and Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 3, 2021

Pew Research Center, Pastors Often Discussed Election, Pandemic, and Racism in Fall of 2020

DownloadOver the summer the Pew Research Center released an analysis of sermons during the run-up to the 2020 election. Its conclusions included:

  • "[A]mong churches that posted their sermons, homilies or worship services online between Aug. 31 and Nov. 8, 2020, two-thirds posted at least one message from the pulpit mentioning the election." 
  • There were significant variations between major Christian groups (Catholic, mainline Protestant, historically Black Protestant, and evangelical Protestant), including with respect to language used and the proportion of sermons that discussed specific issues, parties, or candidates.
  • "[R]elatively few pastors openly stumped for particular candidates or parties," although some sermons clearly favored either Republicans or Democrats.

Hattip: EO Tax Journal

Lloyd Mayer

September 3, 2021 in Studies and Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Study: Household Charitable Giving Continues to Plunge

The Giving Environment: Understanding Prepandemic Trends in Charitable Giving, a new study by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI, examines giving patterns across the past two decades from five nationally representative studies and concludes that giving to charity by U.S. households has been on the decline not only since the Great Recession but since the turn of the century: One out of two American households donated to charity in 2018 compared with two out of three in 2000.

The report, based on research funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, noted that 66.2% of American households gave charitable contributions in 2000, a figure that dropped by 17% to 49.6% in 2018, the latest year for which data is available. It is the first time that giving has dipped below 50% of U.S. households since the studies began tracking this information. 

It is also the first time since the Philanthropy Panel Study (PPS) began tracking the share of American households that donated to charity in a given year that the participation rate dropped to half.

Commenting on the study's conclusions, Una Osili, Ph.D., associate dean for research and international programs at the Lilly School, stated, “The new research offers clear evidence of a substantial decline in formal charitable giving rates prior to the unprecedented challenges of 2020.” With an eye on crowdfunding and impact investing as additional means of charitable giving, Dr. Osili further stated, “It’s also important to acknowledge the many additional ways individuals are participating in philanthropy today.”

According to a report in the NonProfitTimes which analyzed the study:

Data is not yet available to show whether the decline in participation continued in 2020. The study analyzed the latest data from the PPS, a module of the University of Michigan’s Panel Study of Income Dynamics. The study follows more than 9,000 households over time and provides the most comprehensive data available on giving trends by U.S. households.

Giving participation rates decreased for members of all racial and ethnic groups studied between 2000 and 2019. While giving to religious groups began its decline before the Great Recession in 2008-09 — 46% between 2000 and 2004 to 29% in 2018 — giving to secular causes didn’t begin to dip until after the economic downturn of 2008-09In 2008, about 57% of households donated to secular causes, down to 52% in 2010, and a low of 42% by 2018. The decline in average amount donated to religious causes ($1,107 in 2000 to $771 in 2018) has outpaced the decline in average amount given to secular causes ($684 in 2000 to $509 in 2018).

The Times continues:

The largest drops in giving participation were found among Hispanic households, from 44% in 2000 to 25.5% in 2018, about 18.5%. During the same period, giving by Black households declined from almost 49% to less than 33% (16%) while participation by White households dropped from 71% to 58% (13%).

About one-third of the decrease in participation from 2000-16 can be directly attributed to shifts in income, wealth, and homeownership, according to the report’s authors, suggesting that factors like interpersonal trust, empathy and compassion, among others, also may play a role.

The General Social Survey (GSS), which includes questions about interpersonal trust, was another study examined for the report. It indicated that trust and giving participation rates declined simultaneously between 2002 and 2014:

The drop was more severe among Americans 30 and younger than among those older than 30. Younger Americans in 2002 reported giving participation of 84.5% with a 24.7% trust rate, compared with 78.9% and 18.6%, respectively, in 2014. Although the correlation does not mean that the decline in trust helped cause the decline in giving participation, it suggests there may be a relationship, according to researchers.

Now, that is something to think about.

Prof. Vaughn E. James, Texas Tech University School of Law

 

 

July 28, 2021 in Current Affairs, In the News, Studies and Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Accelerating Charitable Efforts Act, a Michigan DAFs Study, and DAF-Critical Media Pieces

Cropped-acg_logo_700The past month has seen a number of significant developments relating to donor advised funds, including the introduction of the Accelerating Charitable Efforts Act ("ACE Act") in Congress, a study of Michigan community foundation DAFs, and media criticism of various uses of DAFs.

Senators Angus King (I-Maine) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) announced the introduction of the ACE Act in early June. The legislation aligned with the priorities and some of the proposals by the Initiative to Accelerate Charitable Giving. Some organizations quickly expressed strong opposition, including the Council on Foundations and the Philanthropy Roundtable. Others reserved judgment, awaiting further study and input from their members, including Independent Sector and the United Philanthropy Forum, although they joined a letter from some critics expressing concerns about the Act. Coverage: Devex; MarketWatch.

Also last month, the Council of Michigan Foundations released a study titled "Analysis of Donor Advised Funds from a Community Foundation Perspective." Here are its Key Findings:

  • DAFs compose a considerably smaller percentage of endowments of Michigan community foundations compared to community foundations nationwide. The median community foundation in the United States holds roughly one in four dollars of its endowment on behalf of a DAF — compared to one in ten for Michigan’s community foundations.
  • The median Michigan DAF experienced investment returns consistent with the median Michigan community foundation. DAF gains were slightly higher, and losses slightly greater, than the median community foundation’s results — suggesting that the median DAF accepts more risk with the opportunity for higher return.
  • The median payout rate of all Michigan DAFs during 2017–2020 is 2% lower than the median Michigan private or community foundation. However, when only including DAFs that made a payout during a given year, the median DAF payout rate moves to 2% or more higher than the median private or community foundation payout rate.
  • In any given year included in this study (2017–2020): 
    • One in ten Michigan DAFs received inbound contributions but made no outbound distributions (grants).
    • More Michigan DAFs made a distribution (more than 60%) than received an inbound contribution (roughly 40%).
    • Although an average of one in four Michigan DAFs was quiet (inactive) in any single year, across the four study years less than 10% of all Michigan DAFs were quiet in every year. These quiet DAFs hold less than 5% of total DAF assets in the state.
    • DAFs that were active in every year 2017 through 2020 — with a contribution, distribution, or both — comprised the majority of Michigan’s DAFs (59%), received nearly all of the contributions (96%), made nearly all of the distributions (88%), and held nearly all of the assets (82%).
  • In 2020 (the most recent year available), just under half (43%) of Michigan’s DAFs paid out 5% or more of their balance, and almost a third (32%) paid out 9% or more.
  • Looking at the type of DAF:
    • Michigan’s DAFs are nearly evenly divided in both number and total assets between endowed and spendable DAFs, with endowed DAFs holding just over 50% of all assets. However, spendable DAFs comprise nearly three-quarters of all contributions and distributions.
    • One-quarter of Michigan’s spendable DAFs distribute nearly half of their balance in any given year, and one in every ten spendable DAFs distributes almost all of the available balance (80% or more) in any given year. 
  • Out of the approximately 2,600 DAFs housed at Michigan’s community foundations, only 2% were established by a private foundation. Balances, contributions, and distributions were also all in single digit percentages. Therefore, private foundation-established DAFs are rare within Michigan’s DAF universe.
  • There is evidence that DAFs responded to the crises in 2020.
    • Two-thirds of all DAFs made distributions in both 2019 and 2020, with just over one-third (35%) increasing both the dollars distributed and the payout rate in 2020 compared to 2019.
    • Nearly one in five distributed dollars in 2020 came from DAFs that made no distributions during 2019.
    • The median distribution from a Michigan DAF rose from $8,500 in 2019 to $9,750 in 2020.

Finally, there have been several news stories and opinion pieces including criticism of DAFs. These included a N.Y. Times story "How Long Should It Take to Give Away Millions?",  an L.A. Times  editorial "Charitable donations are a form of influence-peddling. And they should be stopped" (use of DAFs to avoid California's legally required public disclosure of the sources for donations requested by politicians), and  a Daily Beast story "Christian Billionaires Are Funding a Push to Kill the Equality Act" (focusing on donations from the DAF sponsor National Christian Charitable Foundation).

Lloyd Mayer

July 13, 2021 in Federal – Legislative, In the News, Studies and Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 12, 2021

New IRS Exempt Organizations Data for 2020

DownloadThe IRS recently released two sets of statistical information about exempt organizations, in the most recent edition of the IRS Data Book and in spreadsheets from the Statistics of of Income program.

The recently released 2020 IRS Data Book (for the fiscal year ending 9/30/20) contains the usual high-level statistics for exempt organizations, including:

  • Number of tax-exempt organizations and certain trusts (1,907,711) (Table 14), with most (1,753,824) tax-exempt organizations under section 501(c), including 1,404,170 under section 501(c)(3).
  • Applications for tax-exempt status closed (95,864) (Table 12), with 85,509 approved, 94 disapproved, and 10,261 resolved in other ways (withdrawn, lacked required information, otherwise incomplete applications, etc.). Most (89,477) of the applications were under section 501(c)(3).
  • Notices of intent to operate under section 501(c)(4) (3,219) (Table 13), with 2,796 acknowledged and 423 rejected (because, for example, not required as the organization filed a Form 990 series return before 7/8/16, already exempt under another IRC provision, or the IRS was unable to confirm the submitted employer identification number).
  • Number of returns and other forms filed by tax-exempt organizations (1,360,719) (Table 2), down from fiscal year 2019 as were returns and other forms filed by most other types of entities, which likely reflects delayed processing of returns and other forms caused by the pandemic. Of the returns and other forms filed by tax-exempt organizations, 1,138,931 were filed electronically (Table 4).
  • Examinations of tax-exempt organizations (Table 21), including
    • 1,417 Forms 990, 990-EZ, and 990-N;
    • 178 Forms 990-PF, 1041-A, 1120-POL, and 5227;
    • 427 Forms 990-T; and
    • 356 Forms 4720.

In addition, the Statistics of Income program recently released its Annual Extract of Tax-Exempt Organization Data for calendar year 2020, drawn from Form 990, Form 990-EZ, and Form 990-PF. It provides granular data from these returns; for example, the Form 990 extract has 273,972 rows (one for each employer identification number) and 220 columns.

Lloyd 

July 12, 2021 in Federal – Executive, Studies and Reports | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Private Schools, P.P.P. Loans, and Racial Discrimination

Historically, since private schools have not received federal funds, they have not been subject to civil rights laws, including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VI”), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin.  However, loans associated with the Paycheck Protection Program (“P.P.P. loans”) have changed this landscape.  The $659 billion program was intended to help, among others, nonprofits who needed assistance with making payroll by using loans backed by the Small Business Administration.  Perhaps surprisingly, in the words of The New York Times, it was private schools who “cashed in” on the P.P.P. loans.  See Private Schools Cashed in on P.P.P. Funding.

While public schools were ineligible for P.P.P. loans, private and charter schools could and did apply for loans, despite their multi-million dollar endowments.  When P.P.P. funding dissipated quickly, the Small Business Administration revised its guidelines to clarify that those with other financing options should stop submitting applications.  Yet, in order to stem the tide, additional rule tightening was required.  Minority focused lenders and watchdog organizations raised concerns about equity and loopholes in terms of the loans. 

Nevertheless, there may be a silver lining to private schools’ cashing in on P.P.P. loans.  Perhaps unknowingly, the private schools have made themselves subject to Title VI requirements by virtue of receiving federal funds.  The P.P.P. loan application specifically states that borrowers must comply with several civil rights laws, such as Title VI.  As noted above, Title VI prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin.  This means that private schools cannot engage in racial discrimination against employees, students, parents, or other participants.  This includes in terms of employment, admissions, enrollment, and other treatment. 

An interesting question is whether Title VI imposes prohibitions against racial discrimination not covered by section 501(c)(3).  One definite difference is that private schools who have accepted P.P.P. loans now may have to pay compensatory damages to individuals who prove intentional discrimination in lawsuits against the schools.  In addition, injunctive relief may be awarded to such individuals.  At the very least, due to the receipt of P.P.P. loans, some private schools now are subject to causes of action from individuals and families who have faced racial discrimination at their hands.  Over the years, organizations such as the ACLU have despaired that no such actions were possible, but that has now changed.

 

Khrista McCarden

Hoffman Fuller Associate Professor of Tax Law

Tulane Law School

June 23, 2021 in Federal – Executive, In the News, Studies and Reports | Permalink

Friday, May 14, 2021

DAFs and Redirected Giving Report; The Role of State AGs in Regulating DAFs

Andreoni Photo (592x800) ProfileImage.imgLast week the Boston College Law School Forum on Philanthropy and the Public Good released a report by James Andreoni (U.C. San Diego) and Ray Madoff (Boston College ) titled Impact of the Rise of Commercial Donor-Advised Funds on the Charitable Landscape 1991-2019. Here is the conclusion:

This report has examined existing data about changes in the charitable landscape since the creation of the first commercial donor-advised fund. The following are the key findings of this analysis:

  • There is no evidence that the proliferation of donor advised funds has resulted in an increase in individual charitable giving as individual giving has remained largely constant as a percentage of disposable income, and is currently at the low-end of the range.
  • While individual giving has remained largely constant, there has been a substantial shift in this giving toward donations to private foundations and donor-advised funds and away from direct giving to charities. Combined giving to donor-advised funds and private foundations has increased from 5% in 1991 to 28% in 2019, an increase of 460%.
  • The value of assets in donor advised funds and private foundations have increased
    significantly over the past thirty years.
  • Though more funds are flowing into, and growing in, private foundations and donor advised funds, there is no evidence that charities have benefitted from this trend.
  • In the five-year period prior to 1991, charities received on average 94.1% of all
    individual giving. By contrast in the years 2014-2018 (the most recent years for which data is available), total donations received by charities (including grants from private foundations and donor-advised funds as well as direct giving) equaled between 71-75% of total individual giving.
  • If charities had received donations at the rate of 94.1% of individual giving (the average rate that they received in the 5-year period before commercial donor-advised funds), they would have received an additional $300 billion over those 5 years.

Coverage: Chronicle of Philanthropy

The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits also recently posted a paper presented at a conference a year ago titled Private Foundation Grants to DAFs: Attorney General Charitable Trust Oversight Calls for Disclosure of Use of Funds. Here is the abstract:

$3 billion was transferred from over 2,200 U.S. private foundations to five donor advised fund (DAF) sponsors between 2010 and 2018. Within this universe, a growing number of private foundations have made a single grant during a reporting year to a commercial DAF. Looking just at transfers to the top five commercial DAF sponsors, 35 foundations transferred the entirety of their annual grantmaking to DAFs between 2010 and 2018.

These transactions offered no tax benefit, but in effect excused private foundations from two legal requirements for U.S.-based private foundations derived from the Tax Reform Act of 1969: reporting grant recipients1 and the 5 percent annual payout requirement.2 Such grantmaking, while facially charitable and in-line with the requirements put forth in the 1969 legislation, not only risks breaches of restrictions established by the foundations’ founding documents but also obscures all aspects of the recipients of private foundation funding by providing no context for when or where the charitable dollars will be used.

Private foundation-to-DAF transfers frustrate state attorneys general’s ability to fulfill their supervisory duties to monitor and ensure that charitable dollars held by charitable trusts are used for their intended purpose.

This paper examines the governing authority and practices of state attorneys general offices as relating to a special problem of charitable trust enforcement: private foundation grantmaking to commercial DAFs. The authors examine the regulatory challenges based on interviews with both current and former attorneys from nine attorney general offices, as well as interviews with commercial DAF sponsors. Charities regulators’ ability to fulfill their supervisory duties related to private foundation-to-DAF grantmaking is blocked by the lack of transparency on the use of funds transferred to DAFs. Thus, charities regulators cannot ensure that private foundations’ grantmaking fulfills restrictions on their charitable giving, and the public is unable to see charitable activity ordinarily subject to public inspection.

In order to equip charity regulators to effectively enforce state charitable trust requirements, the paper concludes with two recommendations:

1. Charitable trusts should be required to report to state attorneys general all grants made or approved for future payment from DAF accounts to which they have transferred funds, subject to public inspection, and

2. Attorney General’s offices should respond to the growth of charitable funds held in trust by devoting increased resources to monitoring charitable trusts and donor advised funds.

Lloyd Mayer

May 14, 2021 in Publications – Articles, State – Executive, Studies and Reports | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, May 13, 2021

CRS Reports on Temporary Nonitemizer Deduction & Increased Contribution Limits

Download (2)As part of a report on Temporary Individual Tax Provisions ("Tax Extenders") released a couple of weeks ago, the Congressional Research Service discussed the temporary nonitemizer charitable contribution deduction and temporary increased limits for charitable contributions. In that discussion, CRS made two interesting points.

With respect to the nonitemizer deduction, CRS noted (page 5):

The $300 nonitemizer deduction is likely to have a limited effect on charitable contributions because of its relatively small cap. One study estimated that the induced charitable giving from the nonitemizer deduction would be $100 million, a relatively negligible effect, because most taxpayers who donate are already contributing amounts in excess of $300. [citing “New Charitable Deduction in the CARES Act, Budgetary and Distributional Analysis,” blog post, Tax Policy Center, Penn-Wharton Budget Model, March 27, 2020, https://budgetmodel.wharton.upenn.edu/issues/2020/3/27/charitable-deduction-the-cares-act.]

With respect to the increased contribution limits, CRS noted (page 6; citations omitted):

Lifting caps on the deductions for both individuals and businesses can provide an incentive for additional charitable giving. Evidence on the response of charitable giving by individuals has been widely studied with mixed results. A review of this evidence suggests that an enhanced charitable deduction is likely to increase charitable giving by less than the associated revenue loss. Lifting the limits affects a relatively small share of charitable giving, and the revenue pattern suggests that much of the initial revenue loss (77%) can be attributed to an accelerated realization of carryovers.21 With charitable giving estimated at $427.4 billion in 2018, if all of the permanent revenue loss led to an increase in charitable giving by the same amount (i.e., approximately $1 billion), additional giving would be 0.3% of expected giving prior to the current economic slowdown.

Lloyd Mayer

May 13, 2021 in Federal – Legislative, Studies and Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

TIGTA: FY2019 Statistical Trends Review of the TEGE Division

Download (1)The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration published earlier this month Fiscal Year 2019 Statistical Trends Review of the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division. The report confirms that the Division has experienced both budget and staff reductions in recent years, although that trend started to reverse in fiscal year 2019. Here is the summary:

What TIGTA Found

The TE/GE Division is comprised of seven distinct functions: Employee Plans; Shared Services; Compliance Planning and Classification; and Exempt Organizations/Government Entities, which is comprised of the Exempt Organizations, Indian Tribal Governments, Tax-Exempt Bonds, and Federal, State, and Local (Governments)/Employment Tax functions. According to the IRS, the entities that the TE/GE Division serves employ almost 25 percent of the American workforce.

In May 2017, the TE/GE Division realigned the issue identification, planning, classification, and case delivery processes that were previously embedded within five functions into the consolidated Compliance Planning and Classification function. The reorganization has affected these five functions’ examinations units’ staffing, budget, and processes. In addition, in October 2018, the TE/GE Division established five new compliance groups, referred to as the TE/GE Compliance Unit, which in FY 2019 completed 4,863 compliance checks for three of the functions resulting in a 72 percent change rate.

New legislation often affects IRS operations and may require significant operational changes to implement it. Two new laws significantly affected the TE/GE Division’s operations during the years 2015 to 2019: the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, and the Taxpayer First Act of 2019. In addition to legislative changes, the Federal Government had a lapse in appropriations from December 22, 2018, to January 25, 2019, that shut down most IRS operations for 35 days. As a result, the TE/GE Division experienced inventory backlogs in processing applications for tax-exempt status and timely completing compliance cases. However, IRS management stated that mitigation actions taken, such as allowing temporary overtime and detailing examination agents from one unit to another, addressed the backlogs of applications.

Over the FYs 2015 to 2019, the TE/GE Division’s budget decreased by more than $22.5 million (9 percent), although the FY 2019 budget increased by approximately $7.7 million (4 percent) over FY 2018’s appropriations. Along with the decrease in the budget, the TE/GE Division’s staffing level also decreased by 12 percent from FY 2015 to FY 2019, although hiring efforts in FY 2019 have started improving staffing levels. At the end of FY 2019, the TE/GE Division had approximately 1,500 employees, which was 2 percent of the IRS’s total staffing level of just over 78,000 employees.

What TIGTA Recommended

TIGTA made no recommendations in this report. IRS officials were provided an opportunity to review the draft report and did not provide a formal response

Lloyd Mayer

May 13, 2021 in Federal – Executive, Studies and Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 3, 2021

April 8th: Charitable Crowdfunding: Who Give, to What, and Why? (Lilly Family School of Philanthropy)

Crowdfunding210318I am very much looking forward to participating in a presentation with Amy Sample Ward and Una Osili on new research from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy about charitable crowdfunding. Free registration is available. Here are the details:

Charitable Crowdfunding: Who Gives, to What, and Why?

Thursday, April 8, 2021
2:00-3:15 p.m. ET
Cost: Free

Featuring:

  • Amy Sample Ward, CEO, NTEN
  • Lloyd Hitoshi Mayer, J.D., Associate Professor of Law, Notre Dame
  • Una Osili, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Research and International Programs, IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy

During these unprecedented times, crowdfunding has taken on a significant role in philanthropic giving and fundraising. 

New research from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy reveals perceptions of crowdfunding, how awareness of crowdfunding compares with giving via crowdfunding projects, what motivates donors who give this way, what they support, how they differ from other donors, and where crowdfunding fits in the philanthropic landscape.

Join the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and NTEN for a webinar that blends research and practitioner perspectives on this timely topic. We will present research highlights, discuss trends and implications for crowdfunding for nonprofits, and field questions from participants. This opportunity was made possible with funding from Facebook.

Lloyd Mayer

April 3, 2021 in Conferences, In the News, Studies and Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 2, 2021

DAF Debate Heats Up, New Data Emerges

Cropped-acg_logo_700Recent weeks have seen a flurry of pieces relating to changing the legal rules for donor advised funds or DAFs. Notable contributions include:

At the same time, data about DAF contributions and donations continues to emerge (some from sources with a stake in the reform debate), including:

  • The National Philanthropic Trust published its 14th annual Donor-Advised Fund Report, reporting continued rapid growth of contributions to DAFs and donations from DAFs to charities through 2019.
  • The Nonprofit Times reported that the largest DAF sponsor organizations reported significant increases in distributions from DAFs to charities in 2020, including a 24% increase at Fidelity Charitable, a 171% increase at the National Philanthropic Trust, and a 35% increase at Schwab Charitable.

Despite this debate and new information, it is unclear at this point whether there is any interest in Congress for changing the rules for DAFs. And the IRS is still considering comments it received in response to Notice 2017-73 relating to various issues involving DAFs.

Lloyd Mayer

April 2, 2021 in In the News, Publications – Articles, Studies and Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Int'l Developments: Ten Cases That Shaped Charity Law in 2020, European Legal Philanthropy Environment, Global Philanthropy, and Tax Incentives for Cross-Border Giving

DownloadThere have been several recent publications and reports of note from outside of the United States:

In this article, we examine whether and how the institutional context matters when understanding individuals’ giving to philanthropic organizations. We posit that both the individuals’ propensity to give and the amounts given are higher in countries with a stronger institutional context for philanthropy. We examine key factors of formal and informal institutional contexts for philanthropy at both the organizational and societal levels, including regulatory and legislative frameworks, professional standards, and social practices. Our results show that while aggregate levels of giving are higher in countries with stronger institutionalization, multilevel analyses of 118,788 individuals in 19 countries show limited support for the hypothesized relationships between institutional context and philanthropy. The findings suggest the need for better comparative data to understand the complex and dynamic influences of institutional contexts on charitable giving. This, in turn, would support the development of evidence-based practices and policies in the field of global philanthropy.

The 21st century has ushered in an era of philanthropic globalization marked by a significant rise in international charitable giving. At the same time, cross-border philanthropy has raised legitimate fiscal and regulatory concerns for government. To understand how donor countries have responded to this changed global philanthropic landscape, we use comparative tax methodology to develop a spectrum of approaches to the tax treatment of cross-border giving and apply tax policy criteria to critically evaluate the divergent approaches of Australia and the Netherlands, located at opposing ends of the spectrum. Findings from the comparative analysis reveal that in the current global environment for philanthropy there is a strong case to be made for allowing tax deductible donations to cross borders.

Lloyd Mayer

March 7, 2021 in International, Publications – Articles, Studies and Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

University of Southern California Study: COVID-19 Has Reduced U.S. Life Expectancy

A recent press release from the University of Southern California reveals that research conducted by the University of Southern California and Princeton University has concluded that the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly reduced life expectancy in the United States, with Black and Latinx Americans disproportionately impacted.  

Based on estimates of deaths under four scenarios — one in which the pandemic had not occurred and three that include COVID-19 mortality projections — by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the report, Reductions in 2020 US Life Expectancy due to COVID-19 and the Disproportionate Impact on the Black and Latino Populations, found that as a result of pandemic deaths in 2020, Americans' overall life expectancy will fall 1.13 years, to 77.48 years — the single largest decline in at least forty years and the lowest number since 2003. 

The study also identified significant disparities by race, with researchers projecting that life expectancy for African Americans will fall 2.1 years, to 72.78 years; by 3.05 years, to 78.77 years, for Latinx individuals; and by 0.68 years, to 77.84 years, for white Americans.

Reporting on the projections, today's Philanthropy News Digest quotes Theresa Andrasfay, a postdoctoral fellow at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology and co-author of the report as stating: "While the arrival of effective vaccines is hopeful, the U.S. is currently experiencing more daily COVID-19 deaths than at any other point in the pandemic. Because of that, and because we expect there will be long-term health and economic effects that may result in worse mortality for many years to come, we expect there will be lingering effects on life expectancy in 2021. That said, no cohort may ever experience a reduction in life expectancy of the magnitude attributed to COVID-19 in 2020."

As an African American, I dare say the result of this study does not make me too happy.

Vaughn E. James, Texas Tech University 

 

 

January 20, 2021 in Current Affairs, In the News, Studies and Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

TIGTA On TE/GE Consolidation of Examination Case Selection and Assignment

Download (4)The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has released a report entitled Consolidation of Examination Case Selection and Assignment in the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division Created Benefits, but Additional Improvements Are Needed (Report Number 2021-10-005). Here are the highlights:

What TIGTA Found

The creation of the CP&C [Compliance Planning and Classification] function centralized how noncompliance issues are identified, developed, approved, classified, and monitored for all five TE/GE [Tax Exempt and Government Entities] Division functions. This reorganization changed how the TE/GE Division identifies examination projects, processes referrals, and tracks examinations results. However, because management did not develop performance metrics to measure progress towards achieving reorganization goals, TE/GE Division leadership cannot determine if the CP&C function improved the effectiveness and efficiency of identifying, planning, classifying, and monitoring examination workload.

Further, TE/GE Division management did not establish reorganization goals and outcomes, have a dedicated implementation team in place for the duration of the reorganization, involve all key stakeholders, effectively communicate with affected employees, or provide adequate project management oversight to ensure timely implementation of all necessary actions. This resulted in employee confusion and compromised the initial success of the reorganization. Finally, TIGTA’s analysis showed that the CP&C function has had mixed results reducing the number of unnecessary contacts with compliant taxpayers and identifying more productive examinations. Specifically, between Fiscal Years 2016 and 2019, the number of examinations closed without any changes favorably decreased for two of the five TE/GE functions, but increased by 36, 40, and 31 percent for the other three functions. Further, the overall number of cases closed without full examination (surveyed) favorably decreased by 5 percent, but increased by 468 percent for the Indian Tribal Government function.

The reorganization helped create additional benefits, such as reducing the potential for bias in case selection. In addition, the CP&C function implemented processing changes that decreased processing time for Exempt Organization function referrals by 37 percent, and began implementing a tracking system for all assigned inventory in September 2020.

What TIGTA Recommended

TIGTA made six recommendations, including the Director, CP&C, should develop performance metrics and explore process improvements for validating identified cases to ensure that they include the identified issues prior to assignment. In addition, the Commissioner, TE/GE Division, should determine the feasibility of reassigning resources from compliance functions to improve the efficiency of identifying, classifying, and monitoring productive examination workloads. Management agreed or partially agreed with five of the recommendations, but disagreed to explore process improvements to ensure that selected cases include identified issues prior to issuance. TIGTA believes this action could help reduce the number of assigned cases that employees close without examination.

Lloyd Mayer

January 6, 2021 in Federal – Executive, Studies and Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 21, 2020

GAO: Hospitals' Tax-Exempt Status

Download (1)The U.S. Government Accountability Office has published Opportunities Exist to Improve Oversight of Hospital's Tax-Exempt Status. Here are the highlights of the report:

What GAO Found

Nonprofit hospitals must satisfy three sets of requirements to obtain and maintain a nonprofit tax exemption (see figure).

Requirements for Nonprofit Hospitals to Obtain and Maintain a Tax-Exemption

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While PPACA established requirements to better ensure hospitals are serving their communities, the law is unclear about what community benefit activities hospitals should be engaged in to justify their tax exemption. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) identified factors that can demonstrate community benefits, but they are not requirements. IRS does not have authority to specify activities hospitals must undertake and makes determinations based on facts and circumstances. This lack of clarity makes IRS's oversight challenging. Congress could help by adding specificity to the Internal Revenue Code (IRC).

While IRS is required to review hospitals' community benefit activities at least once every 3 years, it does not have a well-documented process to ensure that those activities are being reviewed. IRS referred almost 1,000 hospitals to its audit division for potential PPACA violations from 2015 through 2019. However, IRS could not identify if any of these referrals related to community benefits. GAO's analysis of IRS data identified 30 hospitals that reported no spending on community benefits in 2016, indicating potential noncompliance with providing community benefits. A well-documented process, such as clear instructions for addressing community benefits in the PPACA reviews or risk-based methods for selecting cases, would help IRS ensure it is effectively reviewing hospitals' community benefit activities.

Further, according to IRS officials, hospitals with little to no community benefit expenses would indicate potential noncompliance. However, IRS was unable to provide evidence that it conducts reviews related to hospitals' community benefits because it does not have codes to track such audits.

Why GAO Did This Study

Slightly more than half of community hospitals in the United States are private, nonprofit organizations. IRS and the Department of the Treasury have recognized the promotion of health as a charitable purpose and have specified that nonprofit hospitals are eligible for a tax exemption. IRS has further stated that these hospitals can demonstrate their charitable purpose by providing services that benefit their communities as a whole.

In 2010, Congress and the President enacted PPACA, which established additional requirements for tax-exempt hospitals to meet to maintain their tax exemption.

GAO was asked to review IRS's implementation of requirements for tax-exempt hospitals. This report assesses IRS's (1) oversight of how tax-exempt hospitals provide community benefits, and (2) enforcement of PPACA requirements related to tax-exempt hospitals.

What GAO Recommends

GAO is making one matter for congressional consideration to specify in the IRC what services and activities Congress considers sufficient community benefit. GAO is also making four recommendations to IRS, including to establish a well-documented process to ensure hospitals' community benefit activities are being reviewed, and to create codes to track audit activity related to hospitals' community benefit activities. IRS agreed with GAO's recommendations.

Lloyd Mayer

November 21, 2020 in Federal – Legislative, Studies and Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Independent Sector: Health of the U.S. Nonprofit Sector

DownloadIndependent Sector has published a report titled Health of the U.S. Nonprofit Sector (free sign-up required to access).  Here is the Snapshot of the report's findings provided by IS:

  • Nonprofits make up 5.5% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
  • In 2019, Americans gave $450 billion to charity, but the number of donors continued a downward trend, declining by 3%
  • Nonprofits make up 7% of total workforce and 10% of private workforce
  • 59% of U.S. public trust nonprofits to do what is right
  • Voters contacted by nonprofits turn out at rates 11 percentage points higher than comparable voters
  • 7% of nonprofits are estimated to close due to the pandemic and almost 1 million nonprofit jobs have been lost

Lloyd Mayer

November 21, 2020 in Studies and Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 20, 2020

DAFs: Surge in Giving Amid Concerns, Proposals for Change at Federal & State Levels, Maybe New Regs Soon

Daf-report201007-1There has been a lot of news recently relating to the quickly growing universe of donor-advised funds. A recent analysis by the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that eight of the nation's largest community foundations have seen giving from DAFs they oversee increase by 42% from March to April of this year. And a recent study by the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy (pictured)  finds that seven of ten nonprofits surveyed have received DAF grants, even as many nonprofit leaders expressed concerns relating to seeking and processing DAF gifts, especially relating to communicating with donors who give through a DAF.

Not surprisingly, the growth and spread of DAFs continues to attract proposals for increasing oversight of and rules for them. Last month the Chronicle of Philanthropy reported that billionaire John Arnold and law professor Ray Madoff have joined forces as part of their Initiative to Accelerate Charitable Giving to propose a set of federal tax law changes that would, among other goals, accelerate giving from DAFs. Push back was quick, including from the Philanthropy Roundtable.

At the same time, proposals related to DAFs are also being made at the state level. For example, members of the California legislature continue to pursue possible DAF-related bills, as detailed by Gene Takagi earlier this year. And a recent attempt in California to pass a bill (AB 2936) that would have established a state-law category of DAF sponsoring organizations failed in August, according to CalNonprofits. In Minnesota, a new report by the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits recommends that state law there be changed to "require charitable trusts transferring funds to a donor advised fund (DAF) to include in their annual trust filing with the office of the attorney general an itemized list of all grants and contributions made or approved for future payment during the year from that DAF."

Regardless of whether any of these proposals advance, we do know that Treasury is working on regulations relating to DAFs. As tweeted by Gene Takagi, Cindy Lott said at the NAAG/NASCO conference to expect some sort of DAF regulations in the next few months.

Finally, the Stanford Law School Policy Lab on Donor Advised Funds published Are Donor Advised Funds Good for Nonprofits? in the Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR). That article follows an earlier SSIR podcast on How Nonprofits Are Leveraging Donor-Advised Funds.

Lloyd Mayer

November 20, 2020 in Federal – Executive, In the News, State – Legislative, Studies and Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 19, 2020

COVID-19, Donations & Grants: Donations Up and Restrictions from Foundations Down

Download (1)A recent report indicates that donors are increasing their giving in response to the challenges of 2020, including the pandemic. The Association of Fundraising Professionals' Fundraising Effectiveness Project reports that charitable giving in the first half of 2020 increased by 7.5% over the first half of 2019, a sharp increase after a decline for the first quarter of 2020 as compared to the first quarter of 2019. The number of donors also increased, by 7.2%, with an increase of 12.6% in new donors offsetting a decline in new retained donors. Coverage: Chronicle of Philanthropy (subscription required).

And according to a recent report from the Center for Effective Philanthropy, a survey of 236 foundations found that 66 percent had loosened or eliminated restrictions on existing grants since the pandemic began. A majority of respondents also reported that since the pandemic began they have reduced what is asked of grantees, made new grants as unrestricted as possible, and/or contributed to emergency funds. Coverage: Chronicle of Philanthropy (subscription required); The NonProfit Times.

Lloyd Mayer

November 19, 2020 in In the News, Studies and Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Nonprofits & Politics: Dark Money and Disclosure, FEC Chairman and the Johnson Amendment

DownloadIn the final lap for the 2020 general election, there have been three notable recent developments when it comes to nonprofits in politics and particularly their receipt of "dark money."

First, in CREW v. FEC the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit affirmed a district court decision that struck down the FEC's narrow interpretation of a statute relating to public disclosure of contributor information when the recipient organization makes independent expenditures, as defined by federal election law. The FEC had taken the position that the statute only required disclosure if a contribution was earmarked to support a particular independent expenditure. The court concluded that this position contradicted the plain terms of the statute, which at a minimum required disclosure if a contribution was made to generally support independent expenditures. However, the court did not resolve whether the statute could be interpreted by the FEC to only require disclosure of contributions with this general intent or instead required disclosure of all contributions (above a modest threshold set by the statute) given to an organization that makes independent  expenditures. For further analysis, see the FEC summary. For coverage, see Politico. This ruling may be especially important as the use of so-called dark money increases on both sides of the aisle.

Second, the states of New Jersey and New York quietly ended their lawsuit against the Department of Treasury seeking documents relating to the Revenue Procedure (2018-38), which initially eliminated reporting of information about significant contributors to the IRS for tax-exempt organizations other than section 501(c)(3) and 527s. That Revenue Procedure was struck down by a federal district court and eventually replaced by regulations. According to Tax Notes, the parties filed a stipulation of voluntary dismissal that provides the states are satisfied Treasury and the IRS have produced the documents requested.

Third and finally, the Washington Post reports the FEC Chairman said during an interview earlier this week that a 2017 executive order freed churches to endorse political candidates. This was in the context of criticizing Catholic church leaders for admonishing priests who appear to do exactly that. He apparently acknowledged that the so-called Johnson Amendment, which prohibits section 501(c)(3) organizations, including churches, from supporting or opposing any candidate for elected office, is still good law, but asserted that it was unlikely to be enforced. Regardless of your views regarding the wisdom or even constitutionality of the Johnson Amendment, it is a bit shocking to hear a public official and lawyer say it is okay to break the law because it probably won't be enforced against you. (Not to mention the executive order he relies upon does not actually prohibit such enforcement.)

Lloyd Mayer

September 19, 2020 in Federal – Judicial, In the News, Studies and Reports | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Foundation Leaders Admit to Seeking to Influence Public Policy Through Grant Making

According to a study of more than 200 grant makers released by the Center for Effective Philanthropy on Wednesday, nine in 10 foundation leaders say their foundations seek to influence public policy through their grant making and other activities. Not only that, but almost 75% of those foundations have increased their policy efforts during the past three years, most frequently at the state and local levels.

Foundation leaders apparently find nothing wrong with the practice. The study relates that "These efforts are not new, but have increased in recent years." Moreover, "most foundation leaders view efforts to influence public policy as an important way to achieve their goals."

The study published a sample of views held by some foundation leaders:

  •     "Good public policy helps our grants go further, and bad public policy undermines our grant making."
  •     "Public policy can have significantly more impact on the issues we care about than our grant dollars alone can."
  •     "One cannot be serious about, for example, the health of the environment and ignore the importance of policy action on       climate change."

The report maintains that "The primary way foundations pursue their policy agenda is through grant making. Almost three-fourths of foundations that engage in policy work support grantees’ policy efforts."

Yet, the survey found that many foundation leaders run into internal resistance to their policy work. According to the report, "Foundation leaders face some common challenges, particularly when it comes to building board support."

Only 45 percent of leaders said their boards were "completely supportive" of policy efforts, 50 percent said their boards were "somewhat supportive," and 5 percent said their boards were "not supportive."

Of course, we know that private foundations face some limits on their advocacy. For example, they are prohibited from lobbying directly on legislation unless the bill addresses the way foundations operate. Also, they cannot support candidates for public office.

Vaughn E. James

May 14, 2020 in Current Affairs, In the News, Studies and Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)