I am pleased to report that 2018 was a great year for philanthropy from the perspective of your Community Foundation. It’s too early to report on total charitable giving for 2018, but I still stand by my prediction that contributions will exceed the 2017 total of $410 billion.
In 2017, giving from individuals represented 79 percent of total giving, foundations 16 percent and corporations 5 percent. As you may recall, many predicted that with the higher standard deduction in 2018 charitable giving will be down, however, I still don’t buy those predictions.
Now that the dust has settled on our year-end numbers, I am pleased to report that total contributions to your Community Foundation were $7.2 million in 2018, up 19 percent over 2017. We also added 48 new funds and now have more than 700 active funds. Most importantly, we saw a remarkable rise in grantmaking in 2018, with $4.4 million total in grants to nonprofits and scholarships from Foundation funds. This was a 37 percent increase over 2017. We have many very generous donors who we serve, and we strive to increase and enhance the impact of their charitable giving.
Our Heartland Legacy Society continues to grow. In 2018, we added 15 new members, bringing the total to 147 with plans to use their fund as part of their estate plan. Their commitment to philanthropy is exceptional and it truly is our pleasure to serve these generous individuals.
In 2018, we received the Regional Leadership Award from Mid-America Regional Council for our work with the Community for All Ages Coalition. It was an honor and a great recognition not only for the Foundation, but also for our Eastern Jackson County community.
Our own School of Philanthropy, our Youth Advisory Council, had another successful year, now with more than 190 students from 13 area high schools. These students are the next generation of philanthropic leaders and their efforts are already making an impact in our community.
While we experienced the same downturn in the stock market as all investors in 2018, with a sharp downturn in the fourth quarter, we maintain a long-term investment strategy for our endowed funds. With the goal of ensuring these funds last in perpetuity, our Board of Directors recently updated our spending policy for endowments. We moved from a 5 percent spending policy, taking the average balance of the fund over the last three years, to a 4.5 percent spending policy, based on a five-year rolling average.
Effectively managing our endowment funds is an important responsibility of our board. Not all funds at the Foundation are endowed. In fact, some of our most active funds are donor advised funds and many donors routinely grant out the majority of funds and then replenish these periodically. This new spending policy only applies to the funds in which the donor has requested that they be endowed.
I am confident that 2019 will be another robust year. In July, I will report on the total charitable giving according to Giving USA and still believe it will exceed $410 billion. But as our snapshot of charitable giving indicates, philanthropy continues to grow in our great community.
– Phil Hanson is the President and CEO of Truman Heartland Community Foundation. Truman Heartland Community Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity committed to improving the communities in and around Eastern Jackson County through cooperation with community members and donors. THCF serves the region with assets of more than $47 million and annual grants surpassing $3 million. For more information on charitable giving, visit www.thcf.org of call Truman Heartland at 816-836-8189.