February 6, 2018

Three Major Philanthropy Trends to Watch in 2018

Author National Philanthropic Trust

What lies ahead for charitable giving in 2018? Here are three predictions on trends to watch:

Turning Illiquid Assets into Philanthropic Capital
Converting complex assets into charitable gifts is a trend we have been talking about for years. It is on a sustained, upward trajectory and I expect we will see even more in 2018. From cryptocurrency to closely-held stock, philanthropists are looking beyond their brokerage accounts to fund their charitable giving. In the last few months of 2017, we accepted an important piece of art, jewelry and three different types of cryptocurrency as donations to our donor-advised funds. This trend spans generations, from baby boomers who are looking to simplify their estates to millennials who are taking risks in new markets like Bitcoin. 

Continued “Rage Giving”
“Rage giving” was a popular term in 2017, mostly used to identify charitable gifts to organizations that oppose or work against government policies that donors disagree with. It is not a new concept—historically, Americans have used their money to advocate for or fight against politicians, policies, corporations and more. What has changed though is the visibility and sustainability of movements like #MeToo through social media, a 24/7 media cycle and online giving platforms. In 2018, I think we should expect to see social movement leaders capitalizing on the momentum they create by getting a show support on social media and fundraising simultaneously.

Is the timing right for “bunching?”
The impact of the new tax laws, including an increase in the standard deduction, on philanthropy in the U.S. remain to be seen. One tax strategy that was suggested at the end of 2017 is “bunching,” where donors consolidate several years’ worth of charitable gifts into a single tax year in order to maximize their deductions. Historically, donors have indicated that tax benefits are not the most important factor in their philanthropic decision making. It will be telling to see if giving behaviors change with the new laws. If so, donor-advised funds are a logical recipient of charitable gifts in the “on” year. That way, donors can get their tax deduction in a single year but spread charitable grants out over time.