It’s a fact echoed by many in the state’s nonprofit sector.
“UNM’s donors are consistently generous in their support of the university, its students, programs, research and patient care,” said Jennifer Kemp, University of New Mexico Foundation senior director for marketing and communication.
In the past fiscal year, 2018-2019, more than 9,400 donors gave $101 million in private support, she said.
The UNM Foundation is one of the state’s 300 foundations. Combined, the foundations had assets of $1.7 billion and giving of $90.8 million in 2017, the last data analyzed by the New Mexico Association of Grantmakers.
New Mexico’s giving rebounded for the period studied, while giving across the country remain flat, according to the association.
“We have benefitted from an extremely strong economy,” said Joanna Colangelo, community impact director at the Albuquerque Community Foundation, one of the state’s top 10 foundations for assets and giving, according to the New Mexico Association of Grantmakers’ list.
“Donors were able to increase their giving and we were able to increase our grantmaking.”
In 2017, the Albuquerque Community Foundation, which has endowment-based funds – meaning they give from returns on the investment of their assets, made $4.8 million in grants and had $91.3 million in total assets.
One trend in the state and nationally is that fewer donors are giving greater amounts, Kemp said.
“The number of donations and donors has decreased over the years, but the size or dollar amount of individual donations are increasing,” she said. For example, in fiscal year 2012-2013, more than 14,900 donors made 33,900 gifts resulting in $81.6 million in gifts and pledges, while last fiscal year more than 9,400 gave more than $100 million in gifts and pledges.
Randy Woodcock, vice president and chief development officer at the United Way of Central New Mexico, explained his perspective – that New Mexicans who donate are generous, but many don’t give.
“Last year we raised $16.5 million from 17,000 donors, It’s a very generous community. For those people who contribute, it’s absolutely a very generous community,” Woodcock said of the four-county region that United Way Central New Mexico represents – Bernalillo, Sandoval, Torrance and Valencia counties. About 90% of those donations came from payroll deductions.
Also last year, the United Way of Central New Mexico had 355 donors who gave more than $10,000 each, Woodcock said.
“There are many hundreds of workplaces that we are not in. What’s interesting though is that we are in front of about 130,000 employees just in the companies we go into. That’s pretty steady. It’s always about 10% participation or so,” he said. “But, you know, the challenge for us, is why isn’t participation higher? Why aren’t 90% of the employees right there wanting to contribute? So we have to try to figure out why.”
The four-county region held its own in a 20-area 2018 United Way comparison of population centers greater than 1 million, coming in behind Houston and Atlanta, but ahead of Kansas City, Missouri, and Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The United Way, which distributes the money it collects, supported 64 community impact grant programs that served 31,967 people.
One of those programs is an income-tax preparation program that benefits 17,501 residents of the four-county area who make $54,000 or less, Woodcock said.
It may be too soon to tell if the changes in income tax that went into effect for tax year 2018 has effected charitable donations, but Woodcock said it doesn’t appear to have affected his organization.
Although the allowance for charitable deductions has risen from 50% to 60% of adjusted gross income, because the tax reform increased the standard deduction, fewer people may itemize. Taxpayers must itemize to claim charitable deductions.
According to the website Credit Karma, the number of donors declined about 6% and the amount of their donations dropped about 2.4%, compared to the same time period in 2018.
But William Smith, president and CEO of the Santa Fe Community Foundation, also one of the state’s top 10 foundations for its assets and giving in the New Mexico Association of Grantmakers list, said the generosity of New Mexicans has not slowed.
According to the association’s list in 2017 the Foundation had $83.3 million in assets and made $7.4 million in grants.
“I continue to be inspired by the generosity of New Mexicans,” he said. “We are challenged many ways in this state. We have persistent poverty here. We don’t have a huge corporate sector in New Mexico and that’s one of the challenges we face, but we have the ability to aggregate the money and contributions we do have in a way that helps an entire sector.”
He noted that the corporate sector may be small, but it is also generous and works with his foundation and others to maximize their charitable contributions.