A $20 Billion Problem



I am worried. And I am not alone. My concern is what’s in store for the bottom lines for not-for-profits this coming year. The predictions in the media are troubling. Some are estimating that a loss of contributions to not-for-profit organizations will be in the billions…perhaps somewhere between $13 and $20 billion. These figures are based upon the anticipated fallout of the recent tax legislation. It’s not that Americans will be less generous. It’s that given a choice, Americans will take an automatic deduction rather than itemize. The motivation to write a check and itemize is gone. What used to be a mental incentive to write that check and declare our generosity on our tax return is now gone. The urge to write the $100, $250 or $500 check has been wiped away and charitable giving is the poorer for it. With federal cutbacks on social programs and growing community needs, there is a case to be made for the idea of making the charitable deduction universal, so that all filers, including non-itemizers, can utilize this provision of the tax code. Until that idea gains momentum, what we call the “safety net” is at risk. And make no mistake, the arts are part of that safety net. For what could be more precious than our freedom of expression?

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