Americans gave $427.71 billion to charities in 2018, according to Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy.

Individual giving was down in 2018, but giving by foundations and corporations made up the difference, leaving the total essentially the same as in 2017. That means a drop in giving when inflation is factored in.

That report is prepared each year by the Giving USA Foundation and the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, with financial support from the Giving Institute Foundation.

In Long Beach, The Nonprofit Partnership presented the report findings on Tuesday. At the same time, the Long Beach Gives: 24 Hours To Make A Difference campaign was announced.

"There was less individual giving last year, and this is one reason why the Giving Day is so important," Michelle Byerly, Nonprofit Partnership executive director, said. "We need other ways to engage our donors… Many of our smaller nonprofits just don't have the time or the people to build their donor base."

On a national scale, individual donations to nonprofits dropped by 1.1 percent compared to 2017 and for the first time in at least 50 years made up less that 70 percent of the total. Still, at $292.09 billion, it was considerably more than the amount given by foundations, corporations and bequests combined.

Winners nationally were in the environment and animal sectors as well as international affairs, according to the report. All other classifications either dropped or remained steady, with giving to foundations showing the biggest decline. Donations to public and society entities dropped 3.7 percent as the next largest decline.

"It appeared the changes in tax laws' impact was mixed," Byerly said. "Some people doubled up on donations in 2017. The stock market's big decline in December, when many donations are made, had an impact as well."

There are more than 400 nonprofit entities in Long Beach, from homeless services to arts organizations and not including religious groups and churches. Most struggle each year to raise enough money to maintain operations, let alone expand.

So Julie Meenan, executive director of the Josephine S. Gumbiner Foundation, and some of her peers came together to create Long Beach Gives. Meenan spent more than 500 hours studying other citywide campaigns to come up with the concept.

"Long Beach Gives is designed to grow the number of individual donors for our local nonprofits and modernize fundraising through an online campaign," Meenan said. "This will also provide the next generation a way to connect with nonprofits — to volunteer, to donate, to make a difference."

Giving Day will take place Sept. 19 — 9/19/19. The goal is to raise $250,000 in 24 hours.

Business owners and foundations already have committed to the cause, Meenan said, matching funds through incentives and prizes. Five already have committed to participate — Josephine S. Gumbiner Foundation, Miller Foundation, The California Endowment, Munzer Foundation, and Port of Long Beach.

A total of 85 nonprofits have been accepted to participate in Giving Day, ranging in size from the Long Beach Gray Panthers to the Aquarium of the Pacific. The Nonprofit Partnership is helping to administer the program, including hosting the steering committee and organizing meetings. The steering committee is actively seeking more partners for the matching program.

People can keep up with the Giving Day effort on social media at #LongBeachGives. To get email updates, sign up at www.longbeachgives.org.

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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