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CHARITY CLIFF: Fears Cause Donations To Grow

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As the nation races toward the fiscal cliff, non-profits are poised to rake in record cash because if there`s one thing donors can depend on, it`s the certainty of today.

Barry Griswell oversees the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines.  It manages charitable accounts for more than a thousand donors who give to thousands of organizations. 

Griswell says donors are fearful that tax hikes and spending cuts will crush the economy. So, he says many are donating as much as they feel they can under the current tax structure. 

The rush to give has created the biggest increase in the foundation`s history. Close to $40 million total. That is roughly a 60 percent spike in 2012, much of it coming after the election. 

Griswell doesn`t speak personally to each donor, but he says, “I`m having to assume that a large number of them are saying I`m going to go ahead and lock in my charitable deduction so I know what it is and you know, not play these games.”

He also points out a downside of going over the fiscal cliff.  The organizations that depend on government money will have less of it. “Then, of course, the need is greater.  That need gets pushed over to the non-profit, the non-profit gets squeezed,” he explained.

It`s shaping up to be a vicious cycle. Griswell says people never cease to surprise him with their generosity, but the conditions would seem to suggest that 2013 won’t be as good as 2012.

The community foundations manages a total of about $ 200 million worth of charitable funds.