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How Charities Can Respond to Trump’s Tax Breaks

In the April 2017 issue of Chronicle of Philanthropy, Eugene Steuerle writes a thought-provoking article called “Charities Need to Increase Giving, Not Just Ask for Tax Breaks.” His point is simple: in the wake of potential tax breaks offered by Trump’s tax plan, charities need to do more to encourage generosity.

His article comes amid a current reality: charitable giving has remained largely the same for the last 40 years. For nearly half a century, people have been giving no more than 2% of their income. In other words, people aren’t becoming more generous.

In view of that truth, Steuerle suggests some practical ways for charities to increase generosity:

1. Join together with other charities for a national campaign to promote generosity.
2. As part of that strategy, highlight personal generosity stories of people of all income types—not just wealthy donors.
3. Engage in more rigorous promotion and identification of worthy charities to support.
4. Encourage people to give to charity when they settle lawsuits and disputes.

As perhaps one of the most powerful ideas, Steuerle suggests helping people understand the percentage of their income they can afford to give. Today, people still have a mindset that, when they get wealthy, they will give. The problem is that the idea of wealth remains an undefined finish line. Indeed, even those with $5 million of net worth often perceive that they lack the wealth to give.

And finally, Steuerle recognizes that financial advisors can become better educated as well. Financial advisors are often the gatekeepers to wealth, but they can also be the encouragers of giving among their clients.

I think part of the message for all of us is, how can we change the 2%?

About Bill High

Bill is CEO of the Signatry: A Global Christian Foundation. He works with families, individual givers, and financial advisers to share the foundation’s message regarding biblical generosity and charitable giving. » Learn More. He is the co-author with David Green of Giving It All Away and Getting It All Back Again: The Way of Living Generously.

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