Charitable giving in Los Angeles County has fallen significantly from pre-recession levels, even as needs among the poor, elderly, young, and homeless surged, a study commissioned by the California Community Foundation finds.
Based on Internal Revenue Service data and a survey, the report, The Generosity Gap: Donating Less in Post-Recession Los Angeles County (24 pages, PDF), found that giving in the county totaled $6.03 billion in 2013, down from $7.16 billion in 2006. Conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles' Luskin School of Public Affairs, the study also found that charitable contributions as a percentage of adjusted gross income fell across all income levels, from an average 2.4 percent in 2006 to 2 percent in 2013, and that the median revenue of the county's nonprofit health and human services organizations has declined significantly since 2000.
A follow-up to the 2014 report The State of Donations (56 pages, PDF), the study found that, if given the opportunity to make a large gift to benefit the region, 43 percent of survey respondents — including 58 percent of African American respondents and 33 percent of those with a household income of at least $200,000 — would target homelessness as one of their top three priorities. In addition, the report found that planned giving by donors in the region was strongly linked to support for local causes, especially among donors under the age of 40, and that 86 percent of younger donors who gave primarily to local causes and had wills with charitable provisions also included a bequest for a locally focused organization.
CCF has identified four approaches to address the "generosity gap" identified by the report— engaging in cross-sector partnerships to better communicate the story of need in the community and attract additional support from outside the region; strengthening and streamlining nonprofits; forging connections between local donors and local nonprofits; and helping organizations take advantage of the looming generational wealth transfer through planned giving appeals.
"Local nonprofit organizations form a powerful network dedicated to serving the county's most vulnerable residents, but we know they are stretched for resources," said CCF president and CEO Antonia Hernández. "We as a collective region must tap into our talent and generosity of spirit to build stable organizations that can make a lasting difference in Los Angeles County."