Cash is not king for fund-raising: Gifts of noncash assets predict current and future contributions growth

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Abstract

Both fund-raising practitioner advice and theoretical concepts from behavioral economics suggest that encouraging gifts of noncash assets may increase charitable giving. This paper analyzes data from 1,055,917 nonprofit tax returns (IRS form 990) filed electronically for the tax years 2010–2016 to explore the association between various types of noncash gifts and intraorganizational contributions growth. Compared with organizations starting at the same general contributions level in 2010 that reported only cash contributions in 2010, (a) those reporting any noncash contributions in 2010 received 41% more general contributions 5 years later, and (b) those reporting any intangible personal property contributions (mostly securities) in 2010 received 106% more general contributions 5 years later. A fixed effects regression incorporating all years of data demonstrates that decreasing the share of contributions coming from cash (i.e., increasing the share from noncash assets) was strongly associated with contemporaneous contributions growth. The largest growth accompanied increases in the share of contributions from nonpublicly-traded securities and real estate. Relatively smaller or insignificant changes were observed when increasing the share of contributions from household goods, clothing, food, books, and collectibles. Shifting contributions from cash to noncash assets, particularly asset types representing substantial wealth, was strongly associated with contributions growth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-179
Number of pages21
JournalNonprofit Management and Leadership
Volume29
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

Keywords

  • IRS Form 990
  • charitable giving
  • fund-raising
  • philanthropy
  • planned giving

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