Local experts suggest fundraisers ask businesses to contribute new tax savings

Fundraisers nationwide have sounded alarms about how the new tax law will affect philanthropic giving.  But at least three local experts don’t seem overly concerned.  Among other strategies, they suggest fundraisers use the tax changes to leverage corporate giving.

On May 17, a lunchtime panel answered national speculation about whether the law’s higher standard deduction would reduce taxpayers’ motivation to itemize their taxes, and thereby take away a powerful inducement to charitable giving.

Hosted by the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Planned Giving Council, the panel included Andrew W. Hibel (Charitable Catalyst and Founder of The Advise Us Foundation), Julie Quinlan Brame (Campaign Consultant, Milwaukee Public Museum) and Kathy Kielar (Senior Director, Major & Planned Gifts at WTTW|WFMT. Chicago).

The panelists encouraged the crowd with three main takeaways:

  • For donors who do choose to itemize, the law should have negligible effect on giving motivations
  • The new law will mainly affect donors of moderate-size gifts, because larger donors will likely continue to itemize
  • Because of the tax cut, all donors are likely to have more capacity to give

One donor segment anticipating greater giving capacity is the corporate community.  Kielar recommended “Don’t be shy about asking your corporate prospects how the new law will influence their company’s philanthropy.  Then broaden the conversation into how your mission would be a great investment.”

As nonprofits brace for expected disruption in traditional funding sources, expect fundraisers to sharpen their appeal to your company’s sense of social responsibility.  Nonprofits’ essential work in the community continues, and they hope your business will be a stronger partner than ever.


On Philanthropy appears monthly in the Milwaukee Business Journal and is contributed by Doug Diefenbach for the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter.

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