As tax reform has been taking shape in Washington this fall, a familiar refrain has echoed across articles, blogs and in the nonprofit sector: If the tax code changes, how will it affect charitable giving? Will donors give less in 2018 if the standard deduction is raised? Should nonprofits be gearing up for a steep drop-off in donations if the estate tax threshold is raised?
Nationally, nonprofits provide over 11 million jobs — a full 10.3 percent of all private sector employment. Nearly 2,000 nonprofits in our region employ thousands of people and contribute to the education, wellness, and artistic enlightenment of us all. And while many economists believe the proposed changes will reduce charitable giving, we hope that the people of the greater New Orleans region will continue to generously support our nonprofit community as the needs they are addressing in our communities require our financial support now more than ever.
As one of America’s 10 Most Charitable Cities, as measured by the Barna Group in a survey of 76,000 adults last year, New Orleans has always been a giving city. We give not to earn the status of the “top ten,” but because we value our neighbors and our local nonprofits upon whose services so many in our communities depend. We also know acutely, as a region, what it feels like to rely on the generosity of others in our time of need.
As leaders of the Greater New Orleans Foundation, we have the privilege of seeing incredible generosity up close every day. In May, we saw our region come together on GiveNOLA Day to raise $5 million (many of the 38,000 donations were for ten dollars) for hundreds of nonprofits in 24 hours. We get to see people, including many who would consider themselves to be of modest means, planning their legacy by leaving retirement assets or property to their favorite causes.
We also have the privilege of seeing people open donor-advised funds, which function like a charitable checking account, in order to streamline their giving and involve their children and grandchildren in the fun of giving as a family. This “window on generosity” gives us faith that the people of southeast Louisiana will again give generously this holiday season — because our nonprofits are counting on them and because it’s just what we do in this generous region we call home.
Christian T. Brown
chairman, board of trustees, Greater New Orleans Foundation
Andrew D. Kopplin