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Keeping the eye on the ball
Jacqueline Beretta

July, 2007

Lady Bird Johnson shook my hand warmly back in the spring of 1968. I was one of the Texas girls who had the good fortune to attend boarding school in D.C. and were invited to the White House to have tea with the first lady. As I stood in the receiving line waiting to meet Mrs. Johnson, I was excited and scared at the same time hoping something interesting and intelligent would come out of my mouth when I stood in front of her. My cousin Betsy Rather was right in front of me and got a hug when her time came….and as she stood there the President himself slipped in next to Lady Bird and grabbed Betsy, picking her up in the air with a big hug. Her Aunt  (and my cousin) Mary Rather was the administrative assistant to the President.

And I was next....all dressed up in my new suit I bought just for the occasion! As I was introduced, Lyndon Johnnson asked if I was Jack Beretta’s daughter, to which I replied “Yes Sir”. He frowned, knowing my dad was of another political persuassion and did not offer me his hand….and then suddenly Lady Bird grabbed my hand and pulled me to her for my hug saying "Shame on you Lyndon!" She was warm and gracious with kind words telling me how lovely my parents were and how glad she was that I could visit the White House. I melted and felt wonderful full of confidence she gave to me – a shy 16 year old visiting the most important house in America. I had the occasion to see Lady Bird several times after that exciting day and each time she greeted me with the same kindness.

Lady Bird Johnson was one of the greatest change agents of America – especially in her efforts to Keep America Beautiful – something we all can see with the glorious wild flowers we have see this year. She worked hard to protect our state and its resources. One Star Foundation president Susan Weddington was quoted, “Her ethic of service to her community and country made her an exemplary role model to several generations.  The citizens of Texas can be proud of the way Lady Bird Johnson represented our state in her tireless volunteer work across the nation.  She is the perfect example of someone who created a ripple effect because she was willing to take the first step to change something she saw that needed to be changed.”

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center near Austin is but one of the magnificent legacies she leaves behind. Please visit their website to see a lovely tribute to Mrs. Johnson. She directed that memorials be givien to The Lady bird Johnson Wildflower Center Endowment Fund. We will miss her.

Did you know that U.S. charitable giving reached $295.02 billion in 2006?  Here are some facts about the 3rd year streak of increasing contributions according to the yearbook of philanthropy published by Giving USA Foundation and researched and written by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University:

  • Corporate giving fell 7.6% in 2005-06, chipping in only 4.3% of total U.S. giving
  • Individuals gave 75.6% of total giving
  • Foundations gave 12.4% of total giving
  • Bequests totaled 7.8% of total giving
  • Religious organizations got 32.8% of total giving
  • Educational organizations got 13.9% of total giving
  • Human service organizations got 10% of total giving

U.S. charitable giving reached a new record in 2006, an estimated $295.02 billion, according to Giving USA 2007, the Donors gave an estimated $11.97 billion more than in 2005, a 4.2 percent increase (1.0 percent adjusted for inflation) over a revised estimate for 2005 of $283.05 billion. The 2005 estimate includes nearly $7.4 billion in extraordinary disaster relief giving. If disaster gifts are excluded from the 2005 total, giving in 2006 rose 6.6 percent (3.2 percent after adjusting for inflation).

“It is impressive that giving continued to rise in 2006, especially following the unprecedented levels of disaster giving in 2005,” said Richard T. Jolly, chair of Giving USA Foundation. “America’s 1.4 million charitable and religious organizations provide a huge range of services that improve lives, from meeting immediate needs to funding medical research or creating endowments to assure the future of arts or educational institutions.”

The record-setting gift amount includes $1.9 billion that Warren Buffett paid in 2006 as the first installment on his 20-year pledge of more than $30 billion to four foundations and also includes donations from hundreds of millions of Americans, as well as gifts from charitable bequests, foundations and corporations.
“While headlines focus on ‘mega-gifts,’ they represented 1.3 percent of the total, ”said George C. Ruotolo Jr., CFRE, chair of Giving Institute: Leading Consultants to Non- Profits, parent organization of the Foundation. “About 65 percent of households with incomes lower than $100,000 give to charity. That is higher than the percentage who vote or read a Sunday newspaper.

Based on publicity surrounding the “mega-gifts” of 2006, some commentators predicted a rate of growth in giving akin to the double-digit increases seen in the late 1990s.

Research shows that giving in 2006 was consistent with the historical relationships between wealth increases and giving.
“The stock market rose more than 10 percent adjusted for inflation in 2006,” said Eugene R. Tempel, CFRE, executive director of the Center. “Going back to 1990, giving rose, on average, about one-third as fast as the stock market did, so 2006 is right on target. Giving rose 3.2 percent, adjusted for inflation, when the disaster gifts of 2005 are deleted,” he added.

Giving by individuals is always the largest single source of donations, according to the report. It rose by 4.4 percent. (1.2 percent adjusted for inflation) to an estimated $222.89 billion and accounts for 75.6 percent of all estimated giving in 2006.

Charitable bequests are estimated in 2006 to be $22.91 billion, a 2.1 percent drop (-5.1 percent adjusted for inflation) from the revised value for 2005, which is based on IRS records and is now $23.40 billion. New IRS information about 2005 shows a very large change in giving by the wealthiest estates. Charitable bequests in 2006 are 7.8 percent of the estimated total.

Foundation grantmaking, as recorded by the Foundation Center and reported in Giving USA, rose 12.6 percent (9.1 percent adjusted for inflation) to $36.5 billion. The increase was because of growth in the number of foundations and because the stock market rose very rapidly in 2006. Foundations make grants based in part on the value of their assets, and when asset values rise quickly, grantmaking increases. Foundation giving accounts for 12.4 percent of total estimated charitable giving in 2006.

Donations by corporations and corporate foundations are estimated to be $12.72 billion in 2006. This is a decline of 7.6 percent (-10.5 percent adjusted for inflation). The decline reflects the extraordinary gifts in 2005 for disaster relief as well as a slow-down in the rate of growth for non-disaster-related corporate giving. Without the 2005 disaster relief gifts included, corporate giving is estimated to have increased 1.5 percent in 2006 (a drop of 1.7 percent when adjusted for inflation).

2006 estimates of giving by type of recipient Charitable gifts benefit at least nine different types of charities, with religious congregations receiving an estimated 32.8 percent of the total. In 2006, the highest  growth rate was in arts, culture and humanities organizations, which saw a change of 9.9 percent. This is the largest change in this subsector since 2000. Arts, culture, and humanities giving reached an estimated $12.51 billion in 2006. The new estimate is based on revised historical data from IRS Forms 990.

Giving to education rose an estimated 9.8 percent, to $40.98 billion, based on the Giving USA survey and data collected by the Council for Aid to Education. Gifts to education are 13.9 percent of total estimated giving in 2006.

Gifts to foundations showed the next-highest rate of growth, increasing an estimated 7.4 percent. This estimate is based on information from the Foundation Center about giving to foundations in 2005. For 2006, the Foundation Center and Giving USA estimate contributions made to foundations of $29.50 billion. About $3.5 billion of that amount is estimated fair-market value of medical supplies and medicines donated to a dozen operating foundations created by pharmaceutical firms and medical products manufacturers. Gifts to foundations are an estimated 10.0 percent of total estimated giving for 2006.

Two subsectors saw a decline in the amount received in 2006, in large part because the donations to those categories in 2005 included billions of dollars for disaster relief.

Giving to human services dropped an estimated 9.2 percent (-12.0 percent adjusted for inflation), to $29.56 billion. Giving to organizations in the international affairs subsector fell an estimated 9.2 percent (-12.0 percent adjusted for inflation) in 2006, to $11.34 billion. In both cases, the 2006 estimate is based on historical data from IRS Forms 990.

Historical revision to estimates of giving by type of recipient As announced in December 2006, Giving USA 2007 contains a revised historical series for giving by subsector for six of nine subsectors it reports on. For the first time in history, aggregate data from IRS Forms 990 filed by charities that raise funds are available to show the historical trends in gifts by subsector. These data cover 1989 through 2004 and were provided to the Foundation by the National Center for Charitable Statistics at the Urban Institute. Giving USA also conducted its annual survey of nonprofit organizations to estimate changes in giving in the most recent year.
Giving to religion and foundations are not changed by the NCCS data as those organizations are tracked in other ways. Giving to education changed very little, as Giving USA annually revises giving to education to incorporate survey findings from CAE.

It should also be noted that new 2004 giving data released by the IRS in late 2006 meant changes to the estimates for 2004 and 2005. The IRS report for 2004 exceeded Giving USA’s estimate for individual giving; nearly all of the difference was in giving by households with incomes higher than $1 million. These very high wealth donors gave far more than had been predicted by the historical relationship between income and contributions. Giving USA revised its procedure for the estimates in 2006 to incorporate amounts in “mega-gifts” that were reported as paid to better estimate contributions from the wealthiest households.

Summary of Giving USA methods

Giving USA’s annual estimates are based on original surveys of organizations and econometric studies using tax data, government estimates for economic indicators, and information from other research institutions. Sources of data used in the estimates include the Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Department of the Treasury, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Foundation Center, INDEPENDENT SECTOR, Council for Aid to Education, National Center for Charitable Statistics at the Urban Institute and National Council of Churches of Christ.

Giving USA estimates the percentage rate of change in giving to subsectors (health, arts, education, religion, etc.). Except for giving to religion and giving to foundations, these estimates are developed by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University based on a survey conducted by the Center for Survey Research at Indiana University. Rates of change for 2006 are based on responses from 784 organizations of 4,765 that received surveys (16.5 percent useable response rate).

With disaster giving excluded, Giving USA found total growth of 5.2 percent when estimating the dollar amount of gifts received at organizations When estimating giving by adding together the results of the four sources of contributions, and excluding disaster giving, Giving USA found a growth in giving of 6.6 percent. The estimates for the sources of giving are developed separately from the estimate of the receipts by type of recipient.

The fact that the two entirely different methods come within a few percentages point is one measure used by the Giving USA Advisory Council on Methodology to evaluate the results prior to their release.

A Note about Inflation Adjustments

Inflation-adjusted rates of change are based on estimates calculated using a Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation converter, which rounds to two decimal points. When comparing the inflation-adjusted rates of change to rates of change in current dollars, the difference between the two is not a constant 3.1 percentage points (the rate of inflation used in the BLS converter for 2006). This is a by-product of the rounding and is not due to the use of a different measure of inflation or an error in calculation.

Giving USA 2007,” was released in June 2007 by the AAFRC Trust for Philanthropy, an annual yearbook of philanthropy. The report was researched and written by the Center on Philanthropy at IndianaUniversity. Additional information is available at


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