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Weekly Column: Supporting Charitable Giving

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

In Idaho, charitable organizations stepped up to serve Idahoans when they needed it the most during the darkest days of the pandemic.  The nonprofit sector adapted to the COVID-19 situation incredibly well, often fulfilling their missions with fewer resources and volunteers or even cancelled events, all while ensuring the communities they serve were being helped.  But, COVID-related responses are not the only ones worth mentioning.  Whether it is responding to a natural disaster, food insecurity or providing mental health services, nonprofits across the country have done a wonderful job.  They deserve our thanks, our praise and our commitment to continued support. 

According to a 2021 report by the Giving USA Foundation, charitable giving in the U.S. exceeded $470 billion in 2020--a 5 percent increase over 2019.  The vast majority of giving comes from individuals, but contributions and impacts from corporations, foundations, and even estates cannot be overlooked.  While data on charitable giving are encouraging, more can be done to encourage giving moving forward. 

Charitable giving and accompanying tax incentives are inextricably linked.  The U.S. Senate Finance Committee, on which I serve as Ranking Republican Member, has been examining the current state of charitable giving, the various charitable tax incentives and trends in charitable giving over the past few years.  Fellow Finance Committee members Senators James Lankford (R-Oklahoma), Tim Scott (R-South Carolina) and Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-Nevada) are among those leading efforts to craft legislation to help increase charitable giving. 

As the Senate Committee charged with considering changes to the tax code, the Senate Finance Committee has an obligation to look ahead and pay attention to shifts in the charitable giving landscape.  For example, the increasing prominence of crowdfunding and the rise of digital assets present challenges and opportunities for the nonprofit sector.  Educational efforts to encourage more giving are also an important aspect.  It is essential that we think through these issues and ensure we are being proactive about new developments and trends on the horizon.  As the Senate Finance Committee discusses these issues, I have sought further insight on related issues including:

  • the overall health of the nonprofit sector since March 2020;
  • the importance of giving through retirement accounts;
  • any pandemic-related giving challenges;
  • priorities in supporting charitable organizations legislatively and through policy efforts; and
  • challenges with expanding charitable giving tax incentives.

Individual Idahoans give extensively of their time and resources, often quietly, and it makes a considerable difference in countless lives.  I look forward to continuing to responsibly encourage giving, that seems to be a way of life for so many Idahoans.

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