New IPS Report Warns of Increasingly Top-Heavy Philanthropy

For Release Wednesday, Nov. 16 at 7:30PM

Media Contacts:
Chuck Collins, chuck@ips-dc.org, 617-308-4433
Josh Hoxie, josh@ips-dc.org, 508-280-5005

A new report, “Gilded Giving: Top-Heavy Philanthropy in an Age of Extreme Inequality,” authored by Chuck Collins, Helen Flannery, and Josh Hoxie of the Institute for Policy Studies and Inequality.org, raises the specter of a philanthropic sector dominated by wealthy mega-donors and their foundations, and donor-advised funds.

“The growth of inequality is mirrored in philanthropy,” said report co-author Chuck Collins. “As wealth concentrates in fewer hands, so does philanthropic giving and power. We believe this poses considerable risks to both our independent sector and democracy.”

The report warns that unprecedented levels of charitable giving in recent years mask a troubling trend. Charities are increasingly relying on larger and larger donations from smaller numbers of high-income, high-wealth donors. Meanwhile, they are receiving shrinking amounts of revenue from the vast population of donors at lower and middle-income levels.

The report also finds that increasingly top-heavy giving has significant implications for the practice of fundraising, the role of the independent nonprofit sector, and the health of our larger democratic civil society.

Risks to charitable sector organizations include increased volatility and unpredictability in funding, making it more difficult to budget and forecast income into the future; an increased need to shift toward major donor cultivation; and an increased bias toward funding larger or heavily major-donor-directed boutique organizations and projects. The increasing power of a small number of donors also increases the potential for mission distortion.

Risks to the public include the rise of tax avoidance philanthropy, the warehousing of wealth in the face of urgent needs, self-dealing philanthropy, and the increasing use of philanthropy as an extension of power and privilege protection.

Key findings:

  • Charitable contributions from donors at the top of the income and wealth ladder have increased significantly over the past decade. From 2003 to 2013, itemized charitable contributions from people making $ 500,000 or more—roughly the top one percent of income earners in the United States—increased by 57 percent. And itemized contributions from people making $ 10 million or more increased by almost double that rate—104 percent—over the same period.
  • The number of private grant-making foundations has shown similar dramatic growth. The number of grant-making foundations in the United States has doubled since 1993, from 43,956 to 67,736 in 2004, and to 86,726 in 2014. Between 2004 and 2014, the number of foundations increased 28 percent and the amount of assets held in those foundations increased 35 percent.
  • Over the past ten years, charitable giving deductions from lower income donors have declined significantly, at almost the same rate that contributions from higher income donors have increased. While itemized charitable deductions from donors making $ 100,000 or more increased by 40 percent, itemized charitable deductions from donors making less than $ 100,000 declined by 34 percent.
  • The number of donors giving at typical donation levels has been steadily declining. According to one estimate, low-dollar and midrange donors to national public charities have declined by as much as 25 percent over the ten years from 2005 to 2015. These are the people who have traditionally made up the vast majority of donor files and lists for most national nonprofits since their inception.
  • The rate of decline in small-dollar donors correlates strongly with indicators of overall economic security in the United States, such as wages, employment, and homeownership rates. This correlation indicates that donor declines are likely due, in large part, to changing economic conditions.

“Since the last recession, the charitable sector has seen tremendous growth in giving,” said report co-author Helen Flannery. “That’s a good thing, in theory. But the growth is from donors at the top of the giving ladder, while giving from small and midlevel donors is steadily falling. And more and more giving is going into warehousing vehicles like foundations and donor-advised funds, instead of to charities on the ground.”

“The trends in philanthropy may be less visible than trends in income and wealth inequality, but they are following the same trajectory. Without intervention, these trends lead toward multi-generational wealth dynasties on one side and widespread austerity on the other,” added co-author Josh Hoxie.

The report tracks significant changes in philanthropic giving in recent years, puts forward a number of possible implications of these changes, and offers some solutions.

Read the full report here:  www.ips-dc.org/report-gilded-giving/

The post New IPS Report Warns of Increasingly Top-Heavy Philanthropy appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

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On the 3rd Anniversary of South Sudan’s independence Oxfam warns the humanitarian crisis is spiralling out of control as funds dry up

On the 3rd anniversary of South Sudan’s independence, Oxfam has warned that appeals to fund the aid effort are failing as the country’s humanitarian crisis is spiralling out of control with malnutrition and sickness rising and an ever increasing number of people forced to flee their homes.

World’s attention elsewhere while needs not being met in Africa’s worse disaster

On the 3rd anniversary of South Sudan’s independence, Oxfam has warned that appeals to fund the aid effort are failing as the country’s humanitarian crisis is spiralling out of control with malnutrition and sickness rising and an ever increasing number of people forced to flee their homes.

South Sudan is currently Africa’s worst crisis with nearly 4 million – a third of the country’s population – at risk of severe hunger and an aid effort that has only so far reached half of those in need. The UN has warned that if the aid effort does not increase 50,000 children could die from malnutrition. Since the current crisis began in December last year fighting has forced 1.5 million people from their homes and numbers continuing to rise.
Appeals for money for the aid effort are failing. The UN’s $ 1.8bn appeal is so far less than half funded. Oxfam’s own appeal for funds has only raised a half of the $ 30.35m it needs.

Urgent need for funds

“The world’s attention is elsewhere as Africa’s worst humanitarian catastrophe descends into more misery. We will be staring into the abyss and fail to avert a famine if funds do not start arriving soon to help the people of South Sudan at risk of starvation, disease and violence. More than six months into this crisis the aid effort is stumbling and will not cope without a timely injection of funds,” said Oxfam’s Executive Director, Winnie Byanyima.

Malnutrition and cholera

In the three most affected areas of South Sudan – Upper Nile, Unity and Jonglei – child malnutrition rates are rising. Thousands of people, many malnourished, have arrived at the UN camp in Bentiu, Unity State, in the last few weeks and over a six week period 100 children have died in the camp. In the UN camp in Malakal, Upper Nile, and Bor, Jonglei, people are living in atrocious conditions and are walking knee deep in mud and water.

The stagnant water from the seasonal heavy rains increases the risk of disease. A cholera outbreak began in the capital Juba mid-April and though it has been contained there are fears that it could spread to other areas. Fighting in Upper Nile is seriously hampering the aid effort and in Jonglei over 400,000 have been force to flee their homes.

Refugees weak and exhausted

Refugees who have managed to cross into neighboring countries are arriving weak and exhausted. Over 158,000 refugees have arrived in Ethiopia. At hospitals run by Medecins Sans Frontieres one in ten children admitted are dying. Another 117,000 refugees have arrived in Uganda, 85,000 in Sudan and nearly 40,000 in Kenya.

Oxfam has so far helped over 260,000 people in South Sudan with food, clean water, sanitation and cash. In Ethiopia Oxfam is helping set up water and sanitation in refugee camps and In Uganda it has helped nearly 45,000 people.

Peace talks need resume

“This is a not a crisis caused by drought or flood. It is a political crisis turned violent. The people of South Sudan can only put their lives back together once the fighting ends. While peace talks remain stalled there will be little hope of a swift end to the conflict without sustained pressure on all parties to come to a peaceful resolution. That peace will only last if it meets the needs of all South Sudan’s people.

“In the meantime civilians caught up in this crisis not of their making will need generous international help to avert a famine and further suffering. For the sake of our common humanity we cannot look away at this time of crisis,” said Oxfam’s Executive Director, Winnie Byanyima.

We will be staring into the abyss and fail to avert a famine if funds do not start arriving soon.

Winnie Byanyima

Oxfam's Executive Director

Contact Information

Vanessa Parra, in South Sudan, +211 0955 107 850 vparra@OxfamAmerica.org
Grace Cahill, in South Sudan, +211 928 926 613 GCahill@oxfam.org.uk  twitter: grace_cahill

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A framework for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo will fail to end the suffering of millions of peopleunless concrete actions are taken.

A framework for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo, due to be signed today, will fail to end the suffering of millions of people in the east of the country unless concrete actions are now taken to ensure leaders stick to the deal and tackle key issues of land, ethnicity and development, international agency Oxfam said today.

The agency said the agreement is a positive step at a critical moment, but falls short of what is needed to halt decades of conflict.

“The real deal will begin tomorrow in villages across eastern Congo where leaders must prove that this plan is more than a ceremonial piece of paper. Signing is easy – the hard work starts now. The crisis is worse than ever and it’s good news that leaders have come together, but what happens over the next few months will make or break the deal. Many previous agreements have looked good on paper but never been implemented. There is a long way to go and a lot to do before this framework brings any change for people caught up in the conflict,” said Philippa Crosland-Taylor, Oxfam’s Deputy Regional Director.

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Oxfam said the new framework must reinvigorate the 2006 Pact on Security, Stability and Development, with a particular emphasis on tackling key local issues such the lack of development, tensions over land rights, and the complex power and ethnic dimensions of the conflict.

Communities in eastern Congo urgently need greater protection from the ongoing violence that has forced around 500,000 people to flee since April 2012. However, Oxfam said discussions on establishing a new Intervention Brigade within MONUSCO, the UN peacekeeping force, must bear in mind that previous military operations have often caused more displacement and retaliatory attacks on civilians, while failing to eradicate armed groups. Any new force must have strict guidelines that respect international humanitarian law and minimise civilian casualties, the agency said.

The real deal will begin tomorrow in villages across eastern Congo where leaders must prove that this plan is more than a ceremonial piece of paper.

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Notes to Editors

Around 500,000 people have fled an increase in fighting in eastern DRC since April 2012, and more than one million people remain displaced across the Kivus region. Most are stuck in overcrowded camps or sheltering with families and face critical shortages of water, food and other vital aid. Oxfam is providing clean water, sanitation, public health and other community services to more than 120,000 people displaced by the most recent fighting.

Contact Information

For more information or to organize an interview contact:?

  • Alun McDonald in Nairobi +254 736666663, amcdonald@oxfam.org.uk 
  • Anna Ridout in the UK +447766443506, aridout@oxfam.org.uk 
  • Louis Belanger in New York +19172240834, Louis.belanger@oxfaminternational.org

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