Nonprofits and Philanthropy in 2017

Subtitled: “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades”* …For Some

2017 hasn’t even happened yet, and already its impact is being felt by nonprofits and philanthropists. Some donors are giving bigger in anticipation of their future tax savings under a President Trump. Many nonprofits are already seeing more and bigger gifts from supporters who believe these organizations are protecting valuable ideals and rights, such as ProPublicaand Planned Parenthood. Some charter school advocates who might otherwise oppose a Trump presidency are cheering his education secretary nominee (despite the fact that her pro-charter stance is more about propping up the Religious Right than ensuring excellence in education).

And then…there’s the flipside: Nonprofits supporting the very vulnerable, like low-income children, who fear the government safety net will not be shredded but simply removed. This seems to be a universal (and universally accurate) fear. If we can believe what Trump says and what Congress has long wanted to do, social programs like food stamps will go the way of the dodo bird. Will those extra dollars sitting in the pockets of the very wealthy take up the slack? Doubtful–the gap will be too large. So will this mean increased crime and a decreased quality of life in our cities, leading to higher local taxes? Will Democrats take back either the House or the Senate in 2018, and what sort of damage will be done to those without power or a voice in the meantime? Will nonprofits utilize their strengths (employing 10% of the workforce, strong boards, vocal volunteers) to push back against these threats?

*Song by Timbuk3, 1986, from album Greetings From Timbuk3

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