Joanne Florino in National Review: Middle-Class Philanthropy Is Collapsing

In an article recently published in National Review entitled “Middle-Class Philanthropy Is Collapsing,” Philanthropy Roundtable’s Adam Meyerson Distinguished Fellow in Philanthropic Excellence Joanne Florino explained that individual charitable contributions declined in 2022 and examined some contributing factors. She also urged Americans to continue considering ways to give back to their communities, including through small gifts, non-financial support and volunteer opportunities.

Below are excerpts from the article entitled “Middle-Class Philanthropy Is Collapsing”:

In a recent report, the Fundraising Effectiveness Project (FEP) noted a ‘collapse’ in the number of one-time donors and donors giving less than $500, down 7 percent in the last year alone. For donors giving $100 or less, the drop was even more dramatic at more than 17 percent. These small-dollar donors are not insignificant — they account for almost 98 percent of all givers.

We’re in the middle of a sea change in philanthropy in which our nation is losing the small givers who support the local food pantry, YMCA, or library. The big philanthropies are giving more, but these funds tend to flow to major medical centers, museums, and similar large-scale institutions.

What are some of the reasons for the decline in individual giving? Economic considerations certainly play a role, but other factors are bigger. As the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy study concludes, ‘Just one-third of the decrease in charitable giving participation from 2000-2016 can be directly attributed to shifts in income, wealth, and homeownership, suggesting that factors such as decreases in interpersonal trust, empathy and compassion, among other factors, also may play a role.’


What can be done to reverse these trends? First, in an age of mega-sized philanthropy by the likes of MacKenzie Scott, Melinda French Gates, and Elon Musk, it’s crucial to remember that all gifts — regardless of size — matter to community-based nonprofits. It’s important to focus on the nonprofits in your local community that regularly and faithfully serve your neighbors. These are the lifeblood of civil society.”

Please continue reading “Middle-Class Philanthropy Is Collapsing” at National Review.

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