Starting a conversation on giving

Americans gave a record amount of gifts to nonprofit and charitable organizations in 2015, the second year in a row.

Experience at the Community Foundation of Jackson County during the past two years mirrors that trend.

Nationally, charitable giving hit an estimated $373.25 billion in 2015, up from $358.38 billion the year before, according to a recent report from Giving USA and the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

Giving to the Community Foundation of Jackson County totaled $617,466.79 last year, an increase from $592,375.26 in 2014.

Increased giving generally translates into more granting, too. Grants and scholarships awarded by the foundation totaled $364,530 last year, an increase from $333,423 in 2014, according to our Form 990s. We anticipate granting to increase this year, too.

Nationally, total giving grew 4.1 percent in current dollars over 2014, the report states.

“If you look at total giving by two-year time spans, the combined growth for 2014 and 2015 hit double digits, reaching 10.1 percent when calculated using inflation-adjusted dollars,” said Giving USA Foundation Chair W. Keith Curtis. He is president of the nonprofit consulting firm The Curtis Group in Virginia Beach, Virginia. “But these findings embody more than numbers — they also are a symbol of the American spirit.”

Like Curtis, folks here at the Community Foundation of Jackson County find it heartening that people do want — and do choose — to make a difference here in our community and elsewhere through their gifts, supporting the local, national and international causes they find important.

Issues and causes such as education, youth programs, cultural endeavors and many others were supported through Community Foundation of Jackson County grants approved last year. The deadline for this year’s fall grant cycle, by the way, is quickly approaching. It’s Aug. 1.

Charitable contributions from individuals, foundations, charitable bequests and corporate sources all increased in 2015, with gifts from individuals — folks like you and your neighbor — again leading the way in terms of total donations at $264.58 billion.

By increasing their gifts 3.8 percent last year, individual donors were responsible for two-thirds of the year’s overall increase in total giving, the report states.

Last year’s largest year-over-year percentage increase in contributions, however, came through grants made by independent, community and operating foundations, according to the report. Such giving increased 6.5 percent. The Community Foundation of Jackson County’s grants helped lead that increase.

Here’s how last year’s giving shook out nationally in the four sectors versus 2014, according to the report:

Individual giving, $264.58 billion, 3.8 percent higher in current dollars.

Foundation giving, $58.46 billion, 6.5 percent more.

Charitable bequests, $31.76 billion, 2.1 percent greater.

Corporate giving, $18.45 billion, 3.9 percent up.

The report credits the sustained growth in giving for 2014 and 2015 to at least two factors, what it calls the country’s overall economic environment continuing toward recovery after recessionary times and household finances stabilizing.

It says healthy growth among several economic factors, including personal consumption, personal income, disposable personal income, GDP and corporate pre-tax profits, influenced all four sources of giving in 2015. Especially from individuals.

We’re curious. What inspired your individual giving last year? What causes do you champion with your time, treasure and talents? What causes do you want to affect through your giving? We invite you to share your thoughts with us. Perhaps the Community Foundation can help you meet your goals. Perhaps your gifts to the endowed funds administered by the Foundation can help us build better tomorrows here at home.

Let’s have a conversation. Let’s see how we can partner to help improve life here in our community. Give me a call, send an email or stop by the foundation office at 107 Community Drive in Seymour.

By the numbers

2015 charitable giving by the numbers

Religion — $119.30 billion

Education —$57.48 billion

Human Services —$45.21 billion

Foundations —$42.26 billion

Health — $29.81 billion

Public-Society Benefit — $26.95 billion

Arts/Culture/Humanities — $17.07 billion

International Affairs — $15.75 billion

Environment/Animals — $10.68 billion

To individuals — $6.56 billion

Dan Davis is president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Jackson County. The foundation administers more than 140 funds with assets of more than $10 million. For information about how you can make a donation to any of the funds administered by the Foundation or how you might start a new fund, call 812-523- 4483 or send an email to Dan Davis at