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A free roundup of the most important news, opinion, tools, and resources of the week. Delivered every Saturday.

March 27, 2021

From: Stacy Palmer

Subject: Upbeat Giving Forecast, Help for Asian Americans, Bloomberg’s Anti-Vaping Campaign

Donor-Advised Funds Navigate a Deluge of Year-End Gifts and Grants 1

Good Morning.

After a tough year, nonprofits got some good news this week in a striking new forecast from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University: Giving is likely to rise by 4 percent this year and nearly 6 percent in 2022.

The key reason for optimism is that individuals — who account for the lion’s share of all giving — will increase donations by 6 percent in 2021 and 3.9 percent in 2022, writes Michael Theis. Corporate giving is likely to rise by 4.3 percent this year and shoot up by 6.4 percent in 2022. Foundation giving may drop a bit. but that’s because it’s been on the rise so much during the Covid crisis.

Michael also rounded up more key data and forecasts, including one suggesting that the projected giving increases won’t be spread evenly among charities: More than four in 10 nonprofits are projecting a decline this year.

Here’s What Else You Need to Know

Nearly 500 philanthropy leaders signed a letter calling on grant makers to increase their support of nonprofits that benefit Asian Americans. The letter was circulated by Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy, which also on Friday released a study noting that only 20 cents of every $100 awarded by foundations went to organizations aiding Asian Americans. "We can't have a complete racial-equity strategy without including Asian Americans," Patricia Eng, president of Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy, told Alex Daniels. "That has been a missing piece for a long time."

Michael Bloomberg' $160 million philanthropic campaign against e-cigarette use among kids could do more harm than good. By overstating the dangers of vaping, Bloomberg's campaign may be falsely convincing some people that there's not much benefit from switching from smoking to vaping, writes Marc Gunther. “Michael Bloomberg has done great things for public health,” says Kenneth Warner, a researcher and longtime warrior against tobacco use. “But he is way off base on this.” The debate is not just about health but about social justice, Gunther notes. Much of the outcry about vaping has come from well-educated and well-connected parents who want to protect their kids, while the smokers who might benefit from switching to e-cigarettes tend to be poor, less educated, and people of color. And finding reliable data to decide what’s best is hard for philanthropists and nonprofits because scientists don’t agree on what the research shows. “We are neck-deep in intractable, internecine warfare,” says Cliff Douglas, former vice president for tobacco control at the American Cancer Society. “Like so much of our discourse these days, the debate has become polarized.”

Foundation assets have grown so fast in the pandemic year that grant makers can afford to give a lot more to bring about the recovery needed amid cascading crises, write Aaron Dorfman of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy and Ellen Dorsey of the Wallace Global Fund. They argue that foundations could distribute 10 percent in 2021 and beyond without jeopardizing their endowments. “Committing to give more in 2021 as the world recovers would do more than serve society well,” they write. “It would offer a key signal to critics and skeptics that philanthropy is putting its money where its mouth is.” Another push for greater giving comes from Craig Kennedy and William Schambra, two former foundation officials, who say conservatives are making a mistake in opposing a plan to force foundations and donor-advised funds to give more. “Rather than resist modest changes to the tax code,” they write, “conservatives should see them as the first step toward retooling a philanthropic world that has become too politicized and self-interested.”

And as you start your weekend reading, you might want to head to Lisa Pilar Cowan’s reflections on the past year as a grant maker trying to figure out how to navigate trying times. “The thing that made me feel best in reading through the year that felt like a decade was rediscovering a quote from Lateefah Simon, president of the Akonadi Foundation who wrote to a group of colleagues: ‘The heartbeat of change is beating. How cool is it that we all get to be of service in this moment.’” 

It is cool, says Cowan. We hope it is for you, too.

Stacy Palmer and Dan Parks

More News, Advice, and Opinion
Here’s what else you’ll want to read as you catch up this weekend:

What We’re Reading Elsewhere

Here are some of the articles that attracted our attention in the past week. We provide these summaries every day in our free Philanthropy Today newsletter. (Sign up now)

Millions of dollars in donations have poured in for the families of victims in the Atlanta shootings. Using crowdfunding pages, families of those killed have raised money for funeral expenses, including travel for faraway family members and other obligations. The contributions have pushed the fundraising efforts well past their goals and dwarfed the amounts raised after other mass shootings, including the killing of at least 58 people in Las Vegas in 2017. One contributor said of a victim's son, "It’s important that he knows there are still good people." (Associated Press)

Billionaire Dan Gilbert is stepping up his role in Detroit’s redevelopment with a planned $500 million infusion in the city’s neighborhoods over the next decade. In aiming to bring the vibrancy that downtown Detroit has regained to its residential areas, the new effort will start by paying off $15 million in overdue property taxes on about 20,000 homes. As those bills have compounded, many homeowners have walked away from their properties, he said. Gilbert's companies have invested and committed more than $5.6 billion in efforts to revitalize Detroit. (Detroit News)

A prominent member of the Mormon Church is suing the organization for fraud and seeking to get back millions of dollars he contributed to it. James Huntsman's federal lawsuit grows out of a whistleblower's accusations in 2019 that the church built up a $100 billion investment fund supposedly for charitable purposes. Instead, the whistleblower said, the church used some of the money to shore up a couple of its businesses, and none of it for charity in the past 22 years. Huntsman said he would give the reclaimed donations to “organizations and communities whose members have been marginalized by the Church’s teachings and doctrines, including by donating to charities supporting LGBTQ, African American, and women’s rights.” (Washington Post)

New Grant Opportunities

Your Chronicle subscription includes free access to GrantStation's database of grant opportunities. Among the latest listings:

  • Youth Sports. Nike’s N7 Fund provides grants for programs that create early positive experiences in sports and physical activity for Native American and Indigenous youths 18 or younger in the United States and Canada. The application deadline is April 16.
  • Older adult safety. The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Older Adult Home Modification Program supports programs that make safety and functional home modifications and limited repairs to meet the needs of low-income elderly homeowners. The goal of the program is to enable low-income elderly people to remain in their homes through low-cost, low-barrier, high-impact home modifications to reduce their risk of falling, improve general safety, increase accessibility, and improve their functional abilities in their home. The application deadline is May 4.
Stacy Palmer has served as a top editor since the Chronicle of Philanthropy was founded in 1988 and has overseen the development of its website, Philanthropy.com. She plays a hands-on role in many Chronicle services, such as its Philanthropy Today daily newsletter and its webinar series offering professional development for people involved in fundraising, grant seeking, advocacy, marketing and social media.
Dan joined the Chronicle of Philanthropy in 2014. He previously was managing editor of Bloomberg Government. He also worked as a reporter and editor at Congressional Quarterly.