Looking back and looking ahead in 2019
By Alicia Philipp, president, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta
The New Year brings reflection, a time when people look back at the year that’s behind us and ahead to what’s to come. Last year there were two things top of mind for me that continue to impact the philanthropic community – changing tax laws and the 2020 Census.
It’s still yet to be determined how the new tax laws are impacting charitable giving. In a recent interview, Una Osili, associate dean at Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, predicted it could be a few years before the true impact on giving to nonprofits is known. She notes that some people are choosing to lump giving into one year vs. over multiple years to take a deduction while others are looking at donating appreciated assets other than cash. She points out that a tax deduction is not the sole reason many people give, they want to support a cause they care about. Metro Atlanta has always been a generous region and I remain optimistic we’ll continue to see strong support of nonprofits across our region. However, I also expect we’ll see an impact, particularly in a reduction of smaller gifts.
The 2020 Census stays on my list of issues to watch in 2019. It’s a critical issue, requiring engagement from business, government and nonprofits. It’s time to finalize our planning, secure support and build capacity for action so we are ready to mobilize residents across our region to participate.
Census data determines how much federal funding comes into Georgia ($14 billion annually) to address real needs like healthcare, early education, and affordable housing. This population count also drives our number of representatives in Congress, how state legislative and school districts lines are drawn, how businesses make decisions and so much more. With implications for 10 years, we need to seize this opportunity to make it as accurate as possible.
Including a citizenship question on the census is a hot button issue that has yet to be resolved. If included it will make an impact which could cause a domino effect for funding and services down the line if the count is not all-inclusive.
Another issue that’s top of mind for me is that Atlanta remains challenged by a lack of economic mobility for many residents. Also known as the opportunity gap, this disparity can mean the difference in access to a good education, quality healthcare or even life span. Think about that – the zip code where someone is born, right here in our region, can mean the difference in more than 10 years of life expectancy.
There is a coalescing of will around closing the opportunity gap from leaders in our region. At a recent Rotary Club of Atlanta meeting, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President and CEO, Raphael Bostic, talked about the detrimental economic impact on a community if it lacks economic mobility. There’s a collective sense that this issue needs to be at the forefront for all sectors – corporate, government, nonprofit, public and private enterprise.
It’s important that we continue to address the underlying factors that lead to a lack of economic mobility and to lift up the organizations in our region that are doing the difficult work of closing that gap. It’s morally right, and a strong economy depends on it.