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Donors, funders post growth

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The economic boom of the late 1990s apparently helped feed a surge in charitable contributions by individuals and foundations.

The deduction for charitable contributions that individual Americans reported on their tax returns grew 11.1 percent to $133.6 billion in tax year 2000, outpacing an 8.2 percent increase in adjusted growth income, according to a new report by the Internal Revenue Service.

And contributions, gifts and grants by domestic private foundations grew 18 percent in reporting year 1998 to $19.4 billion, a second IRS report says.

Individuals filed more than 37.5 million returns for 2000, up 5.8 percent from 1999, when the charitable contribution deduction totaled more than $120.2 billion, according to a report in the winter 2001/2002 issue of the Statistics of Income Bulletin.

More than 2.4 million returns of individuals with adjusted gross income of $200,000 or more accounted for more than $48.3 billion in charitable deductions – the biggest share for any income group.

By comparison:

* More than 16 million returns of individuals with adjusted gross income between $50,000 and $100,000 accounted for nearly $37.8 billion in charitable deductions.

* Nearly 6.9 million returns with adjusted gross income between $100,000 and $200,000 accounted for more than $25.8 billion in charitable deductions.

* More than 12 million returns with adjusted gross income of up to $50,000 accounted for nearly $21.7 billion in charitable deductions.

In a separate bulletin report, the IRS says the total fair market value of assets for 56,658 foundations filing returns for 1998 – up nearly 3 percent from foundations filing the previous year – grew 16 percent to $397.1 billion, while total revenue grew 15.6 percent to $25.9 billion.

Foundations with $100 million or more in assets held 61 percent of all assets but accounted for fewer than 500 returns, or less than 1 percent of all foundations, and were responsible for 46 percent of all grants paid, the report says.

Ten foundations alone accounted for more than 30 percent of total assets held by the biggest foundations.

The share of investment assets invested in corporate stock – which the IRS says is seen as high-risk but also yields higher returns over time – totaled 51 percent for foundations with less than $1 million in assets, 60 percent for foundations with $1 million to $50 million, and 68 percent for foundations with more than $50 million.

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