Why Giving Locally on Giving Tuesday Is More Important This Year

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

Another one of the (in)advertant by-blows of Trump’s desire to favor the rich with tax breaks is the adverse effect on charitable giving. The main factor is the doubling of the standard deduction, which takes away the incentive to give more tax-deductible donations.

This story in the Washington Post explains: “When the standard deduction doubled, it eliminated the need for many people to itemize their tax return. The Tax Policy Center estimates that the number of filers itemizing their returns fell from 46 million to 19 million. The change in the law made tax filing easier for many middle-income filers, but it also suddenly eliminated a major incentive to give to charity. If you don’t itemize, you can’t take the charitable deduction.”

This is one of the many causes why charitable giving is in trouble. Overall donations by individuals actually dropped slightly last year. One additional reason is the shift of giving, particularly by newly minted tech millionaires, to international and national causes. In Seattle, you have the shift of some major companies such as Boeing and Safeco and the Allen Foundation from being local heavyweights. Local causes have trouble keeping up with the glamour and prestige aspects of wealthy charities.

So, give to smaller local causes, particularly media outlets, and give more generously. Maybe it’s a small consolation to be thumbing your nose at The Donald as you write out that check.


  1. Here’s more on this story. Small and medium donors are declining, while mega-donors are increasing their gifts. https://nonprofitquarterly.org/where-have-all-the-donors-gone-the-continued-decline-of-the-small-donor-and-the-growth-of-megadonors/. “Giving to [non-religious] charities (labeled “secular giving”) is down almost three percentage points from the prior wave (2014) to the most current wave (2016). Secular giving is down over twelve percentage points from its peak before the Great Recession. As a rate of change, this means that 22 percent fewer households are donating at all to these non-congregational charities.”


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