Obama, in his press conference last week:
I mean, if you look at the evidence — there’s very little evidence that this has a significant impact on charitable giving. I’ll tell you what has a significant impact on charitable giving is a financial crisis and an economy that’s contracting. And so the most important thing that I can do for charitable giving is to fix the economy, to get banks lending again, to get businesses opening their doors again, to get people back to work again. Then I think charities will do just fine.
Actually, charitable foundations managed to stay close to previous donation levels, even in last year’s contracting economy.
The nation’s foundations lost nearly $150 billion in assets last year, or almost as much as they have given away over the last four years, a new study has found.
The study, by the Foundation Center, a chief authority on American philanthropy, determined that foundation giving for the year nonetheless held steady at an estimated $45.6 billion, falling by just 1 percent on an inflation-adjusted basis.
Still, without the $2.8 billion given away by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the nation’s largest, the decline would have been almost 3 percent.
The study cautions that this coming year could be considerably tougher for charities than last year.
But the fact remains that in a particularly sluggish year, foundations reduced their donations by only $456 million; by contrast, Obama’s tax proposal would reduce charitable contributions by about $4 billion.