Pennsylvania Nonprofit News: School Readiness, Wage Inequality, and Who Decides Tax Exemptions

With budget season looming, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children is keeping an eye on the happenings in Harrisburg. They recently commented on the education funding in Governor Wolf’s proposed 2015-16 budget and in February released a brief detailing the state of school readiness among the Commonwealth’s youngest residents. According to their analysis, less than 19 percent of 3- and 4-years-olds have access to quality, public pre-K programs,  and 7.5 percent of youth up to age four have high-quality child care.  The data briefs on school readiness factors for Allegheny County (and all counties) are also available on the PPC website.


The Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management at Robert Morris University formed the 74% Project to explore the lives of women leaders in the nonprofit sector. Wage inequality in nonprofits throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania is their current research focus – one that resulted in some interesting data on the salary disparities of male and female executive directors.  Their debut fundraiser, “The Great Debate” will be held on Equal Pay Day April 14, 2015 from 5:30 – 8:00 p.m. at the Twentieth Century Club in Oakland.


On the other side of the state, nonprofit leaders are, by their own reports, stressed out. A survey conducted by the Nonprofit Center at La Salle University’s School of Business found that half a decade after the official end of the Great Recession, 51 percent of Philadelphia nonprofits are still struggling to bounce back, with little or no economic recovery reported. Of those leaders who reported some recovery, the majority (75 percent) attribute it to individual giving. Long term financial stability and finding the budget to hire additional staff (to meet in the increase for services since the late 2000’s) were the top concerns among nonprofit executives. Exhausted and stressed were the top responses (tied at 22 percent) describing how the respondents felt as leaders, but 19 percent reported feeling optimistic. The complete report is available at the Center’s website.


Pennsylvania Senate Bill 4 continues to be debated in both the press and the Legislature. The bill would grant power to legislators to determine what charities are eligible for tax exemptions through an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution. Rich Lord and Chris Potter of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette look at the impact of this change and why many nonprofits back the amendment in their article Pennsylvania bill debates definition of taxable charities.




Senior Hunger Threat Remains Higher than Pre-Recession Levels

Food insecurity on the rise among seniors.
Food insecurity is on the rise among seniors.

The number of senior citizens considered food insecure increased by 49 percent between 2007 and 2012 according to a study from The National Foundation to End Senior Hunger (NFESH).  Using the Three Core Food Security Module to measure risk, study authors Dr. James P. Ziliak of the University of Kentucky and Dr. Craig G. Gundersen of the University of Illinois found that over 9 million American senior citizens were food insecure, and threat of hunger rates for all senior groups (ages 60 to 69, 70 to 79, and 80+) were higher in 2012 than 2007, even though the recession had ended. The majority of seniors facing threat of hunger due to food insecurity were white with incomes above the poverty line, but both African American and Hispanic seniors were at a higher risk of hunger than whites. Over one-third (35%) had at least one grandchild living with them.

The State of Senior Hunger in America 2012: An Annual Report also ranks states by senior hunger threat, with Arkansas (25.44), Louisiana (23.56), and Mississippi (22.67) having the highest rates in the nation. In 2012, Pennsylvania had a rate of 12.93, down approximately 15 percent from 2011. The NFESH has numerous reports on the threat and consequences of senior hunger at their website.

Food insecurity among seniors may be related to income, neighborhood safety and walkability, and individual physical and mental health, but regardless of the reasons why, the consequences are poor health and a deficit of needed nutrients.  As the Baby Boomers age, it’s likely that we will hear more about senior hunger as a top public health issue.



Photo Credit: M. Puzzanchera (Own Work) (CC By-NC-ND 3.0)

Is Giving Bouncing Back from the Recession?

The Great Recession did a number on charitable contributions, with the rate of total giving dropping over 13 percent (combined) during 2008 and 2009.  Although charitable giving has yet to return to pre-recession levels, new data indicate that it may not take long to reach that mark.

Estimates recently released by the Giving USA Foundation and the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy suggest that individual giving played a significant role in the 4.4 percent increase in overall giving in 2013.   Corporate giving declined by 2 percent last year, while foundation giving increased by over 5.5 percent. Individual giving increased almost 4.5 percent and made up the largest portion of contributions.  The report,  Giving USA 2014: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2013, is available on the Giving USA website.

The Foundation Center has posted a preview of their Key Facts of U.S. Foundations 2014 report  that gives an optimistic view of giving trends, even while noting that 11,000 more foundations were included in the upcoming report than in 2008, including some created by pharmaceutical companies specifically to distribute product. Also, though foundation giving appears to have increased in 2013, it must keep ahead of inflation rates to be meaningful.  Still, based on the strong stock market, replenished endowments, and positive trends in individual giving, the forecast for foundation giving looks to be one of steady growth.


Two Studies Indicate a Brighter Picture for Giving

Good news for philanthropy comes in the form of encouraging reports on giving trends at both the corporate and personal level.

Well over half (59 percent) of the corporate respondents have returned to 2007 total giving levels last year according to the just released Giving in Numbers: 2013 Edition, from CECP and The Conference Board.  Some of the highlights:

  • 38 percent of companies increased their giving by 25 percent or more between 2007 and 2012.
  • Since 2008, corporate non-cash donations (in-kind donations of product, space, services) grew faster than monetary giving.
  • 40 percent of companies plan to increase giving in 2013, while 42 percent report no anticipated change.
  • For the first time in the history of this report, health and social services (28 percent) ceded the top area of giving slot to education (29 percent with k-12 and higher education combined).

The report, which also discusses trends in corporate philanthropy since the 2008 economic downturn, is available for download at the CECP website.

Parents hold the key to their children’s giving habits according to the report Women Give 2013, a study from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University that found children with parents who talk to them about charitable giving are 20 percent more likely to to donate themselves.  Key findings from the research from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy include

  • Nearly 90 percent of youth between the ages of 8 and 19 years donate to a cause or charity.
  • Regardless of income level, over half of the youth reported that they talked with their parents at least twice about charitable giving during the study period (2002-03 and 2007-08), with 60 percent of middle income families discussing philanthropic activities, 59 percent of high income and 52 percent of low income.
  • There were no strong differences in the impact of talking to children about charity across age, race or income categories.
  • Talking to children about giving was shown to have a statistically significant effect on later giving, while role-modeling did not.

Discussing the organizations you support and why you choose to do so has a more powerful impact on children than simply writing the check.  Engaging the next generation of givers truly begins at home.