About The Author

David Grabitske

David Grabitske is the manager of outreach services at the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The February 26, 2009, Chronicle of Philanthropy notes the possible loss of several billion dollars in charitable giving under the most recently proposed federal budget. This proposal, which still needs to be passed by Congress, would cap charitable tax deductions at 28 percent for those earning more than $250,000, and would not take effect until 2011. What concerns some observers is that it seems to suggest the possibility that if major donors do not fund larger museums, the expenses of larger museums will encourage their development staff to find replacement contributions, and thereby increase competition for every dollar for all nonprofit charities.

First, what percentage of your income comes from individuals making a tax deductible contribution?

Second, can you describe what competition is like currently for individual contributions? Do you passively accept contributions? Seek them? Are people still giving in tough times? How hard is it in the present economy to make the case of your organization’s worth to donors?

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One Response to Charitable Contributions

  1. Well, about 98% of our money comes from individual contributions, which leaves us in this very competitive marketplace.

    We passively accept contributions, we actively seek them, and as yet, we have no idea what’s going to happen this year, although we are in the planning stages of a major campaign to raise operating dollars and the money to pay off our new building.

    I can report that in November/December we exceeded our fundraising goal by a grand or so, which really surprised me. We had fewer donors than last year, but some higher numbers. It was encouraging to me.

    We are also going to separate membership fees from other types of charitable donations this year, partially in an effort to increase membership, but really to make it clear what one’s gift is actually going for.

    Because we are doing something that no one else in the region is doing, our case might be a little bit easier to make–whether or not it is PERSUASIVE is another matter entirely! I will certainly report back to you on our successes in the coming year.

    It’s going to be tough for all of us, I am sure.


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