Data Point: Donor Motivations for Initially Establishing Funds at Community Foundations

As the nation discusses ways to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff,” there has been widespread debate over the likely impact of changes to the charitable tax deduction.

Since 2009, CEP has been providing community foundations with insight and analysis based on rigorous surveys of their donors, working with CEOs and foundation leaders to enhance their effectiveness.

As part of our Donor Perception Report, we asked 4,991 donors of 41 US-based community foundations from across the nation the following question:

“Please think back to your first contribution to or through the Foundation, or your initial establishment of a fund at the Foundation. Choose among the following options the two most important reasons you first decided to establish a fund with the Foundation or make a donation to or through the Foundation.”

From a list of eight options for giving that ranged from “financial or tax benefits” to “make an impact on a specific issue” to “other,” here’s what they said.

While this doesn’t directly answer questions about the relationship between the charitable tax deduction and future giving patterns, it provides a data-based snapshot of the varied reasons community foundation donors across the country chose to give.

CEP will be publishing new research about community foundation donors in 2013.


Grace Nicolette is a Manager on the Assessment Tools team at the Center for Effective Philanthropy.

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