The economy has more impact on charitable giving than recent changes in the tax code, and most charities do not seem to be suffering, said Susan Jenevein, director of philanthropy at Tolleson Wealth Management in Dallas.

Some reports show that individuals were not as generous since tax reform doubled the standard deduction to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for couples, but Jenevein said the nonprofits and donors she works with have not pulled back.

“I have not seen any charities that are worried about meeting operational goals, and capital campaigns seem to be clicking along, too,” said Jenevein, who has worked with fund-raising teams and philanthropic clients for more than two decades.

The Giving USA Foundation in its report on giving in 2018 found individual giving declined 1.1% from 2017 to $292 billion. Total giving was virtually flat, growing only 0.7% to $427.71 billion for the year. Giving by foundations increased by an estimated 7.3% to $75.86 billion, and giving by corporations increased by 5.4% to $20 billion.

Because of the doubling of the standard deduction on income tax forms, fewer people itemized deductions in 2018. This does not necessarily affect the number of people who donate, but it can affect the amounts and the timing, said Una Osili, associate dean for research and international programs at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

More than 45 million households itemized deductions in 2016, but it is estimated that the number dropped to between 16 million and 20 million in 2018, the Giving USA report said.

“The economy is doing well, and the stock market is up,” said Jenevein. “Middle income giving is motivated by personal confidence, which is strong, and a desire to give. Some people may be bundling their giving for a couple of years into one year to still qualify for a deduction, but corporate giving and giving by foundations is up. As long as this lengthy economic expansion continues, charities will receive donations.”

Jenevein noted that the circumstances surrounding the 1986 tax reform and the 2008-2009 financial crisis may be telling for the current climate.

“Before the 1986 tax reform, there was a surge in charitable giving as people anticipated changes and then donations went down for a while, but then they went back up in 1988,” she said.

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