Home > Pittsburgh Foundation-Flurry of Late-year Fundraising Fuels Strong 2016 Finish

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$43 million total for grantmaking is 22 percent more than for 2015 

 A burst of year-end giving to The Pittsburgh Foundation in the final two months of last year bolstered dollars raised to $44.6 million. In the last four weeks of that year, the Foundation saw cash donations of $18 million, as compared to $10 million over that same period in 2015. 

Foundation officials attribute the last-minute uptick in new funds to concerns that possible changes in income and estate tax rules could reduce the tax benefits associated with charitable giving. But Foundation President and CEO Maxwell King believes that tax implications were not the only reason for increased donor activity. 

“Our new and long-time donors were acting generously in reaction to the daily news we’ve all been exposed to: they’re highly aware of the great need in the community, especially given concerns around state and federal support for essential human services,” King said.  (pictured)

For Senior Vice President for Development and Donor Services Yvonne Maher, the economy was a factor in the significant December surge.

“Gifts to the Foundation generally reflect market conditions, and when the market trended up in the last two months of the year, gifts of appreciated securities trended in the same direction,” Maher said. “Our speculation is that people waited until after the election to assess potential tax implications of a change in administration and chose donor-advised funds so they could take an immediate tax deduction.” 

The number of donor-advised funds established at the Foundation increased for the third consecutive year, with 49 new funds established last year, for a total of 963 donor-advised funds. Donor-advised funds enable individuals to take immediate tax deductions while considering their charitable options. 

Grant activity by donor-advised funds also saw upticks in 2016. The Foundation made 7,371 grants totaling $43.1 million, of which 3,547 totaling $20.5 million were directed by donors through their donor-advised funds. In 2015, 5,582 grants totaling $35.3 million were made, of which 3,280 totaling $16.4 million were through donor-advised funds. This represents a 22 percent increase in grantmaking overall and a 25 percent increase in dollars granted to the community by donor-advised funds last year.

“Our grants management staff reported unusually high grant-making activity by donors leading up to and after the election, which demonstrates the trust that donors place in community foundations to act responsively and quickly to community needs in times of uncertainty,” said King.

Tapping into Pittsburghers’ deep-rooted conviction to help improve their neighbors’ life circumstances is a core principle of the Foundation’s 100 Percent Pittsburgh organizing principle, which aims to create opportunities to assist the 30 percent of the region’s population left out of an improved Pittsburgh economy. The Foundation directed 60 percent of its discretionary grant dollars toward 100 Percent Pittsburgh-related initiatives that meet basic needs and help target populations -- especially youth ages 12 to 24 and single women raising children -- to access the benefits of our improving regional economy.

“There’s a growing recognition that aiding vulnerable populations is vitally important in our current political climates, both nationally and locally,” King said. “While philanthropic support will never make up for federal and state funding of essential services, it is incumbent upon our Foundation and other resource providers in the region to act so that the most vulnerable are not pushed into a crisis.”

Total donations from living donors were down from $25.8 million in 2015 to $16.5 million in 2016. However, in 2016 the single largest gift from an individual was $3 million, as compared to $15 million in 2015 from Dr. Richard and Priscilla Hunt, which was the largest gift from a living donor in the Foundation’s 70-year history.  

“Last year’s fundraising involved lots of singles and doubles that went on the scoreboard in the last quarter,” said Maher. “There was no mega-gift, no home run per se, so to raise almost $45 million against the backdrop of significant political and market turmoil is an outstanding testament to the generosity of Pittsburghers.” 

Gifts from bequests totaled $8.3 million -- $3.3 million more than in 2015.  

The Pittsburgh Foundation is the third-largest philanthropy in the region and the 13th-largest community foundation in the United States.  

Foundation assets, including those from its supporting organizations, were $1.14 billion* up from $1.13 billion in 2015.

*Unaudited numbers. Audited financials will be reported in July.

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