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Now that the first 100 days of Trump administration have come and gone, it’s fair to say the philanthropic sky hasn’t fallen. Instead, the early confusion that marked the new administration has produced a highly assorted set of pluses and minuses for the nonprofit world.
The next question is whether charities and foundations will be able to look at the positives and see any way to work with the White House — or whether they will remain convinced the Trump presidency threatens virtually every goal they pursue and every value they represent.
The most recent evidence about how the grant-making world views the administration comes from the Center for Effective Philanthropy, which found in a recent survey that almost half of CEOs of large foundations believe Trump’s tenure will make it harder for them to reach their philanthropic goals. A third say they’re changing goals or strategies. Almost half plan to do more collaboration with other donors and more advocacy.
Starting with the positive, the biggest plus is that the securities markets — anticipating, and to some extent already seeing, cuts in taxes and regulations — are up, bigly. If recent history is a guide, this portends a sizable increase in charitable donations from both individuals and foundations (whose giving is required to increase with the value of their assets).
Next, it looks like the stream of donations won’t be radically constricted by unfavorable changes in federal tax laws. Whenever there’s talk of tax changes in Washington, the fear arises that this really means the abolition of deductions, including that for charitable giving. According to the tax plan outlined last week by administration officials, that’s not going to happen, although the proposed increase in the standard deduction could reduce the number of taxpayers who itemize their gifts to charity and other allowable expenses. Still, that may not greatly affect how much Americans give.