The Download

The Download

June 27, 2016

Monday, June 27, 2016

Kids Count

New national rankings shared in the 2016 Kids Count Data Book, released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, show where our state stands in several key areas for children. Michigan improved in three categories of overall well-being, health and economic well-being but the state took a dive when it comes to education.

The Michigan rankings:

  • Overall child well-being: 31st (up from 33rd in 2015)
  • Health: 14th (up from 23rd in 2015)
  • Education: 40th (down from 37th in 2015)
  • Economic well-Being: 28th (up from 33rd in 2015)
  • Family and community: 29th (ranking unchanged)

The Michigan League for Public Policy (MLPP) shared the report on social media, highlighting the need to expand access to higher education and career training. The MLPP has also formally responded to the report, sharing some insight on the numbers along with concern, noting that while Michigan may have improved its ranking overall in child well-being, the state is still behind all of the other Great Lakes states.

“This data tells two different stories about Michigan kids—their health is improving thanks to a continued emphasis on policy changes, but education and poverty numbers continue to get worse without legislative action,” stated Alicia Guevara Warren, Kids Count in Michigan project director at the MLPP. “As we measure ourselves against the rest of the nation, there is clearly much work to be done to offer better opportunities for our kids, and a big part of that is employing two-generation strategies to help improve the education and economic standing of their parents.”

The MLPP shared that more than half of young children are not in preschool, 71 percent of fourth-graders are not proficient in reading, and 71 percent of eighth-graders are not proficient in math. 

“From lead poisoning in Flint and the struggles in Detroit schools to the rampant poverty in our rural areas, Michigan policymakers need to make significant changes to better serve our kids,” Gilda Jacobs, president and CEO of the MLPP said. “We already have legislation introduced in Michigan to improve access to early childhood education and improve third-grade reading, but we’re still doing poorly in those areas while these bills languish. Our kids can’t wait, and policymakers shouldn’t, either.”

While the Casey Foundation offers recommendations for action in the national report, the MLPP also shared specific recommendations for Michigan to improve our children’s well-being and improve our national numbers:

  • Invest in communities to create safe neighborhoods, clean air and water, quality schools and adequate police and fire services.
  • Strengthen policies that support work, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, earned paid sick leave and workforce development opportunities.
  • Promote comprehensive strategies to prevent child abuse and neglect, including providing mental health and substance abuse services for parents.
  • Ensure access to affordable, quality child care.
  • Adequately fund public schools, targeting resources in high-need areas and providing early interventions and services.







Open Data

The Internal Revenue Department is now releasing Form 990 and 990-PF tax returns, nonprofit tax forms, as machine-readable open data, meaning they can be easily accessed, searched and shared by everyone.

Form 990 gives the IRS information about tax-exempt organizations and educates organizations about tax requirements and compliance. Organizations can use the Form 990 to share information with the public about their programs.

Switching the documents to the machine-readable open data format means foundations, especially private foundations, will have their financial expenditures, investment data, grant information, write-offs and more, available to everyone. Donor information or other personal identifying information will not be included in the data available to the public.

The switch means the public will now be able to download the forms and have the ability to easily compare annual data in any category internal to a foundation and also compare foundations’ data with other similar organizations.

IRS officials said the decision to turn the nonprofit tax data into an easily accessible and readable format was prompted by the continued calls for transparency in the nonprofit sector.

But the IRS only began the process of creating the open data from the foundations’ tax records following a court ruling last year that ordered the federal tax agency to produce nine nonprofit tax forms in machine-readable format after losing a legal fight with Public.Resource.Org, an open-records advocacy group.

Previously, Form 990/990PF data was only available in image files. This data, which currently includes filings from 2011 to present, will now be available files you can download through Amazon Web Services.

The Aspen Institute also led the effort, obtaining financial, research and legal support from foundations, the Foundation Center and other partners.

To date, more than one million Form 990s and 40,000 Form 990PFs have been released in machine-readable open data format and the IRS will rapidly release millions more in the coming months.

It is a revolutionary development in the philanthropic sector and a tremendous leap to achieving full transparency in the field, according to the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) and the Foundation Center.

"As the terrarium walls insulating individual foundations fall, we will surely face a few moments of anxiety and discomfort. But greater transparency, fueled by open IRS data, can only make us more conscientious stewards of our resources, more effective decision makers, and better collaborators on our way to achieving greater impact in the world," Bradford Smith, president of Foundation Center, wrote in a recent blog.

The IRS commissioner said the publicly available information on the Form 990 series is vital to those interested in the tax-exempt community.

Click here to search through the Form 990s that are already available.






Record Giving

Foundation grants in 2015 helped overall U.S. charitable giving reach record levels for the second consecutive year, according to the recently released Giving USA 2016 report. Donations from America’s foundations, individuals, estates and corporations reached an estimated $373.25 billion last year, setting the new record. Philanthropic leaders hailed the giving numbers as a remarkable achievement, especially considering giving to foundations declined during that same time period by 3.8 percent.

Foundation grants:

  • Made up 16 percent of total giving
  • Increased by 6.5 percent from 2014

Corporate giving, including corporate foundation grants:

  • Estimated $18.5 billion
  • Increased by 3.9 percent from 2014

“These findings embody more than numbers—they also are a symbol of the American spirit. It’s heartening that people really do want to make a difference,” Giving USA Foundation Chair W. Keith Curtis said. “They’re supporting causes that matter to them. Americans are embracing philanthropy at a higher level than ever before.”

Strong stock market returns on investments, an increase in our nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and declining inflation numbers helped spur the new record giving amounts, according to researchers. Large dollar donations helped boost the numbers as well, the report noted. Those donations – categorized as gifts of $100 million or more – totaled at least $3.3 billion in 2015.

Two factors played key roles in the sustained growth in total giving in 2014 and 2015: the nation’s ongoing economic recovery and stabilizing household finances.

Highlights of the Giving USA 2016 report:

  • Giving to foundations was the only category in 2015 where donations decreased—by 3.8 percent in current dollars.
  • Giving to educational institutions remained strong; growth exceeded 5 percent in 2015.
  • 32 percent of total giving went to the religious sector, despite the fact giving to religion has steadily shrunk for decades.

While record giving is always welcomed news for the philanthropic community, foundation giving did take a hit, leaving some to wonder why? Where charitable dollars are going is under scrutiny by longtime New York philanthropist, Lewis Cullman, and Boston College law professor, Ray Madoff. The pair expressed concern last week in an article in The New York Review of Books, that donor advised funds may have an impact on giving to more traditional foundations and nonprofits. Meaning more people may be giving to donor-advised funds instead of giving directly, leaving their money in what the pair calls “charitable limbo.” Unlike private foundations, which are required to pay out five percent of their assets annually, donor advised funds can hold money for years.

Companies behind donor advised funds say they increase giving since the process is easier, more accessible, and allow donors to watch their giving grow over time and give to a wide variety of organizations well into their retirement. The Washington Post writes, "Cullman and Madoff's article does not provide definitive evidence that donor-advised funds are actually hurting America's charities. But they do put forward startling data showing that giving to donor-advised funds is skyrocketing, while contributions to traditional charities have declined." Contributions to donor-advised funds have grown significantly, with total charitable assets doubling in only five years.

Read more from Cullman and Madoff.

Check out the full Giving USA 2016 report.







2016 Grantmakers Salary and Benefits Survey

The Grantmakers Salary and Benefits Survey is currently underway and the Council on Foundations and the Foundation Center are asking for your input. The Council of Foundations says the results from this survey are valuable benchmarking tools designed specifically to collect compensation and benefits data for 35 positions at community, private (family and independent), public, and operating foundations, as well as other staffed grantmaking entities. The deadline is July 15. Those who participate will receive free PDFs of the results.

Participate in the 2016 Grantmakers Salary and Benefits Survey

Read the 2015 results.

News type: