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Holiday cheer for nonprofits: Reasons to celebrate 2017

Amidst the doom and gloom of politics and the news, there are a few good reasons for nonprofits to be grateful and festive this holiday season. I realize that I am putting a big bow on current and upcoming charity challenges, but there are some glimmers of hope for nonprofits, around the world.

1. Individuals are still giving and at record numbers

According to a report by Charity Navigator, charitable donations have increased every year since 1976, apart from three years that saw declines: 1987, 2008 and 2009. Total giving to charitable organizations was $390.05 billion in 2016 (2.1 percent of the U.S. GDP.)

What does the forecast look like for 2017? Charitable donors are being encouraged to increase their giving this holiday season, in anticipation of more restrictive donation exemption limits becoming U.S. law in 2018. These future limits are not good news for nonprofits, but could result in a windfall of giving in 2017.

2. Greater awareness of sexual harassment

High-profile viral hashtag campaign #metoo revealed the magnitude of sexual harassment and violence, with the public becoming much more educated about the need to support survivors of sexual abuse, the public has become much more educated about the need to support victims of sexual abuse and misuse. For the thousands of charities working to support an end to violence, this could lead to more focus in giving to these organizations. The MissionBox Philanthropic Fund posted grants for nonprofits and charities with programs supporting empowerment of women and/or girls.

3. Most successful #givingtuesday to date

Over 100 community coalitions and advocacy organizations fueled a Giving Tuesday increase from $177 million in 2016 to $274 million in 2017. These numbers also indicate a corresponding increase in volunteer hours and efforts made to mobilize giving in over 150 participating countries.

4. Improvements for human rights

Many Americans (as well as countries across the EU) are “waking up” to the real meaning of human rights and the need to provide protection and support through volunteer hours and charitable giving. A recent article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review notes that "it is not all doom and gloom for human rights advocates; one surprising result of Trump’s win has been a surge in attention regarding the need to protect human rights. Many Americans, for instance, are accustomed to thinking about human rights issues as problems that occur only in underdeveloped countries. For the first time, we are seeing broader recognition that what Americans call constitutional civil liberties are human rights by another name.”

5. Increase in overall donations

In the U.S., individual donors are reacting to the controversial and negative impact of Trump administration policies by increasing donations.

No presidential election has impacted giving attitudes as much as the election of President Donald Trump. Bethany Maxi of the PMX Agency says: “of 1,000 consumers surveyed, nearly one quarter reported planning to give more to charitable causes under the Trump administration … (for instance) the average individual giving amount is on pace to grow from $901 in 2016 to $1,140 in 2017, according to data fielded in the study. Small donors ($100 or under in 2016) show the most dramatic increase… jumping by 107 percent from an average of $37 in 2016 to $107 throughout 2017, and those who donated between $100 and $499 in 2016 plan to give an average of 72 percent higher dollar (in 2017).”

6. Reaction to climate change policies

The Trump administration is intent on trashing environmental policies that are aimed at slowing disastrous climate change and the resulting impact on endangered species across the globe. While his pullbacks are nothing but bad news for the world, aware individuals, some states such as California and New York, and countries outside the U.S. are picking up the mantle of environmental protection.

China and the European Union are willing and able to take the lead on the issues. “We are not going to backslide even if the United States at the moment…is backsliding from its previous commitments,” European climate commissioner Miguel Arias Canete told reporters in Beijing, according to a Reuters report.

Canada and India have also stated, publicly and often, that they plan to push back on Trump policies and will continue their efforts to slow global warming. And so, the world will soldier on without the U.S. in attempting to reverse or slow climate change (for now). There may soon be a day when the U.S. is led by a more intelligent group of politicians (meaning: those who understand and believe in real science).

French President Emmanuel Macron has awarded long-term research grants to 18 climate scientists — 13 of them U.S.-based researchers — to relocate to France and pursue their work with the support of a government that believes it is critical to address the threat of climate change.

Some may call me a "Pollyanna", but I persist in a hopeful outlook for nonprofits everywhere this holiday season.

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MissionBox editorial content is offered as guidance only, and is not meant, nor should it be construed as, a replacement for certified, professional expertise.

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Co-founder and CEO of MissionBox, founder and president of MissionBox Philanthropic Fund, founder and past CEO of Community TechKnowledge