Charitable Giving in L.A. County Down $1 Billion New study conducted by UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs finds decline in giving since 2006 amid urgent and rising need in Los Angeles

A study commissioned by the California Community Foundation (CCF) and conducted by the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs finds that local giving is on a decline, with Los Angeles County residents declaring $7.16 billion in 2006 charitable deductions compared to $6.03 billion in 2013.

“The Generosity Gap: Donating Less in Post-Recession Los Angeles County” shows that in many L.A. communities donations are ebbing as needs surge, particularly for families in poverty, youth, the elderly and the homeless. Released today at the Center for Nonprofit Management’s 501(c)onference, the report combines IRS data with a first-of-its-kind survey that asks Angelenos about their charitable giving to L.A. causes. It explores the current fiscal context for giving and offers a snapshot of the behaviors, patterns and motivations by Los Angeles County donors.

“Local nonprofit organizations form a powerful network dedicated to serving the county’s most vulnerable residents, but we know they are stretched for resources,” said Antonia Hernández, president & CEO of the California Community Foundation. “We as a collective region must tap into our talent and generosity of spirit to build stable organizations that can make a lasting difference in Los Angeles County.”

Some of the report’s major findings include:

  • Los Angeles County residents are donating less to charitable causes than they did in 2006. And those with greater capacity to give are giving a lower proportion of their household income overall.
  • Median nonprofit revenues continue to decline dramatically in Los Angeles County.
  • White, Latino, Asian American/Pacific Islander, African American and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender donors in Los Angeles give at similar rates across most causes. They vary, however, in the proportion of their giving that goes mostly or entirely to locally focused organizations.
  • Given the opportunity to make a large gift to Los Angeles, donors’ highest priority would be ending homelessness. But, of their contributions to basic needs causes and combined-purpose organizations in 2015, only one-third went to locally focused nonprofits.
  • Planned giving is strongly connected with support for locally focused charitable causes, through both bequests and current contributions, especially among donors under 40.

“UCLA and CCF are local institutions that seek to transform donations from a few into opportunities for many,” said Bill Parent, project director and lecturer in the Department of Public Policy at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. “It is our hope that a better understanding of charitable giving in the region can benefit donors and nonprofits alike, as we work together to build better futures for all Angelenos.”

Commemorating its 100th year, CCF has hosted a range of activities to inform and inspire L.A. residents to give back to their community, whether through volunteering their time, donating to their favorite causes or creating a legacy for future generations. CCF aims to draw attention to complexities, trigger dialogue and encourage solutions to Los Angeles County’s most pressing challenges with this study.

The Generosity Gap was drawn from a research project developed by Bill Parent, former director of the Center for Civil Society and lecturer in the UCLA Luskin Department of Public Policy, and Urban Planning professor Paul Ong. The primary authors of the report are Luskin Civil Society Fellow J. Shawn Landres and Shakari Byerly (MPP ’05). Luskin doctoral students Silvia Gonzales (MURP ’13) and Mindy Chen (MSW ’12), of the Luskin Center for Neighborhood Knowledge, provided research and data analysis support.

The full report is available here.

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