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ASU Lodestar Center Blog

Research Friday: Current Status of Arizona's Philanthropic Resources

Welcome to Research Friday! As part of a continuing weekly series, each Friday we invite a nonprofit expert to highlight a research report or study and discuss how it can inform and improve day-to-day nonprofit practice. Today, we welcome Marissa Theisen of Arizona Grantmakers Forum to discuss findings from the 2010 Arizona Giving Report.

One never-ending concern for nonprofits is funding. Organizations must continually evaluate which programs get priority, and at times, make tough decisions as to which ones get cut. As a state-wide sector, it can help us to understand what funding looks like across Arizona. Arizona Grantmakers Forum (AGF) released a 2010 Arizona Giving Report earlier this year. It provides an overview of the size and scope of philanthropic activities in our state, based on 2008 IRS data. The findings reveal some interesting facts and raise serious questions about the funding of Arizona's nonprofit sector:

First, Arizona's institutional philanthropic sector is smaller than most states. Total foundation assets were just under $6 billion. Arizona ranked 40th among states in terms of private foundation assets per capita. Given Arizona's severe economic challenges, we don't anticipate any significant increase in the total size of our philanthropic assets over the next several years.

Second, total giving from all philanthropic entities is quite small. Total grants made by all Arizona-based grantmaking entities (including corporate foundations) in 2008 amounted to a bit more than $653 million, with 72% ($470 million) going to Arizona nonprofits. On the bright side, in 2008 Arizona nonprofits received grants from foundations located outside of Arizona totaling approximately $111 million.

While additional corporate contributions (cash and in-kind) from businesses (i.e. not through corporate foundations) surely were important, given that Arizona is home to so few large corporations, we estimate that in 2008 such contributions totaled less than $10 million. Charitable bequests from estates provided another $526 million.


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As is the case nationally, the largest source of private charitable contributions in Arizona came from individuals. Our analysis of 2008 IRS data indicates that individual Arizona taxpayers donated an estimated $3.87 billion to charities. It should be noted that most individual charitable giving goes to churches and other faith organizations. An ASU study found that 61% of individual contributions in 2008 went to religious organizations. Additionally, approximately 24% of contributions went to support causes in other states and countries.

So, how does Arizona compare with other states in terms of individual giving?

Here's what we found: Arizona ranked 25th out of 50 states in terms of average Adjusted Gross Income (AGI). The state also ranked 24th in terms of the percentage of AGI (2.05%) allocated to charitable contributions. However, the state ranked 40th in terms of average charitable contributions per itemized return ($3,621). A closer look at the data indicates that at each income level, ranging from less than $50,000 to greater than $200,000, Arizona itemizers ranked between 29th and 41st in terms of average charitable contribution. This suggests there is real potential to increase individual charitable giving in Arizona.

In all, a very rough tally of all the sources of Arizona-based charitable giving in 2008 amounted to an estimated $5 billion.

Giving 2008 Total Giving in AZ (actual dollars)
Foundations $653,000,000
Corporations* $10,000,000
Individuals $3,870,000,000
Bequests $525,000,000
Estimated Total $5,058,000,000

* Estimated

While $5 billion may sound like a sizeable chunk of change, it's important to remember that a considerable portion of those charitable donations go to religious organizations and/or charities located outside Arizona.

According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, in 2008, total revenues of Arizona's approximately 7,000 public charities filing with the IRS 2008 exceeded $19 billion. While private charitable contributions traditionally have represented less than 20% of nonprofit revenues, they will be increasingly important in the future, in light of significant cutbacks in government support.

So, how do we change things? Tune back into the Center blog on Tuesday, when I'll suggest some ideas for increasing the flow of resources to Arizona's nonprofit sector.

Ms. Theisen has served as President & CEO of the Arizona Grantmakers Forum (AGF) since its inception in 2000. AGF is an organization dedicated to providing networking, educational, and collaborative opportunities for Arizona's private, community, and corporate foundations and giving programs.


^ [1] For more information, check out the Center's 2010 Arizona Giving & Volunteering Report.


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