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Will new tax law downsize Sacramento area's Big Day of Giving?

Sacramento celebrates Big Day of Giving (2015)

The Big Day of Giving is a campaign to raise $5 million in 24 hours for Sacramento-area nonprofits. This video is from the 2015 event.
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The Big Day of Giving is a campaign to raise $5 million in 24 hours for Sacramento-area nonprofits. This video is from the 2015 event.

Will the Sacramento area’s Big Day of Giving be downsized by the new federal tax law?

Linda Beech Cutler , CEO of the Sacramento Region Community Foundation, which runs the Big Day of Giving, says it’s possible, but perhaps not to the degree that some were predicting at the dawn of 2018.

“I think that’s a question on everybody’s mind: How will it affect philanthropy? But early indications here show that activity is pretty good,” Cutler said Wednesday.

Thursday’s daylong effort to draw contributions represents a potential bonanza for hundreds of nonprofits in Sacramento, Placer, El Dorado and Yolo counties.

During last year’s Big Day of Giving, nearly 600 participating nonprofits in the Sacramento region collected a record $7.2 million through more than 40,000 donations. The top fundraisers were the Placer Land Trust, which raised $141,000 through 290 contributions; the Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services, which took in $91,000 through 504 contributions; and the Sacramento SPCA with 773 donations raising $88,000.

Almost immediately after the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 was signed into law, however, various experts predicted a multibillion-dollar plunge in charitable contributions nationwide.

In simple terms, the law’s provision to increase in the standard deduction likely means that fewer U.S. taxpayers will itemize deductions during tax season next year, essentially negating any fiscal advantage gained from listing individual charitable contributions. Also, lower tax rates make deductions less beneficial for those who do opt to itemize.

At the close of 2017, Stephanie Bray , president and CEO of the United Way California Capital Region , said the organization was anticipating a 5 percent decrease in charitable giving, which would equate to around $500,000.

Yet Cutler said Wednesday that she has been encouraged by multiple developments and observations. For starters, the new tax law’s impact has not been a hammer blow elsewhere.

“We’ve been looking around at other giving days around the country before ours, and it doesn’t appear that there’s been a significant erosion, if at all,” Cutler said.

Also, Cutler noted that the Big Day of Giving website allows donations to be scheduled ahead of time, “and scheduling has been very robust.”

She said the number of regional nonprofits participating this year is around 587, “down just a little bit” from about 600 in 2017.

Cutler added that regional nonprofits, perhaps anticipating the impact of the new tax law, have engaged in “very creative kinds of fund raising.” She said more than 70 participating nonprofits are hosting special events for the daylong BDOG.

Prior to the Big Day of Giving, nonprofits have sent out videos detailing the work they do, and those whom it benefits. The California Automobile Museum in Sacramento sent out emails with color photos of the water-tight, interior-cooling roof it installed last year, a $750,000 project made possible by donated funds.

More information on all Big Day of Giving activities can be found at www.bigdayofgiving.org .

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