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The State of Church Giving through 2002

Chapter 7 Highlights

Full Chapter 7 PDF

•     The Associated Press told the American public that giving rose 2.8% in 2003, while the percent change in individual giving as a percent of Disposable Personal Income, adjusted for population and
income, was -2.0%.
•     The quality of giving information disseminated to the American public received an F in the fourth annual Report Card on the Measurement of Philanthropy (see Table 17).

Table 17: Report Card on the Measurement of Philanthropy, Twelve Entities, Part 1

Evaluation Category Form 990 IRS Treasury Dept. Urban Institute U.S. Government Associated Press Universities [with Non-profit Programs]
Adjusts for Population & Income F D F F -
Emphasizes Living Individuals F F D F -
Treatment of Religion F F D F -
Addresses Annual Measurement A D C A F
Report Available for Timely Review F D C A -
Distance from For-Profit Counsel A A A A -
Consistency over Time A D A F -
Revisits Major Questionable Findings F D D F -
Availability of Information F C D F -
Takes Steps to Maximize Validity F D F F -
Summary Grade F D- D+ F F

Table 17: Report Card on the Measurement of Philanthropy, Twelve Entities, Part 2

National Bureau of Economic Research U.S. Statistical Abstract Trade Magazines: Philanthropy 400 and NPT 100 Advisory Committees GUSA and GAVITUS Foundations Giving USA: AAFRC Indiana Univ. Center on Phil. GAVITUS; Balancing the Scales: Independent Sector
- D F C D F A
- D F C D F A
- D F F F F F
- A A F F F F
- A F C A F A
- A D D D F F
- D D D D F D
- A A B A F C
- F F F F F F
F C F D- D- F F

•     Recommendations to improve the measurement of philanthropy include:
•     Reports of philanthropic giving need to be adjusted by population and income, as are other national statistics.
•     Changes are needed in the Internal Revenue Service Form 990 to provide information about contributions from living individuals as a distinct category. In order to assist this development, the Unified Chart of Accounts needs to provide a meaningful category dedicated to contributions from living individuals.
•     A policy decision is needed to change Form 990, so that a nonprofit may choose between the governance categories of either faith-based or secular. Groups also need to be able to define themselves through the use of a standard classification system, such as the National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities.
•     A policy decision is needed to measure contributions to recipient categories, by source of donations. Form 990 needs to be changed so that reporting recipient organizations define their contributions by source, choosing among individual, bequest, corporations (businesses), and foundations.
•     A permanent commission with a Presidentially-appointed and U.S. Senate-approved chair, similar to one recommended in the 1970s by the Filer Commission, is needed to establish and maintain consistent standards of philanthropy measurement.
•     A peer-reviewed Journal of Philanthropy Measurement would assist with developing and refining standards of philanthropy measurement.
•     Giving USA's Religion series erroneously builds on past years when Religion was overestimated as a "residual" or leftover amount after summing other categories.

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