2018 Rodman Report provides philanthropy stats, trends among local businesses

An annual survey of Central Texas companies found that most maintain a strong emphasis on corporate giving, with philanthropy budgets that increased from 2016 to 2017.

The 2018 Rodman Report details that and other results from a survey of businesses of various sizes and industries. This marks the fourth year in a row that Austin-based philanthropic advisors Rodman & Associates have conducted the Survey of Corporate Giving, the only study of its kind that addresses Austin and the surrounding area.

2018 Rodman Report

The survey compiles statistics and sets benchmarks measuring how much, and in what ways, Central Texas companies give to nonprofits. Lisa Rodman, founder and principal of Rodman & Associates, said the results prove valuable for businesses to understand how their giving compares to others in the community, and for nonprofits to see how their needs align with the giving priorities of Central Texas businesses.

A few highlights of the Rodman Report include:

Who spearheads giving: The survey identifies the departments or positions most likely to be philanthropy decision makers at companies, and this year those results were matched to company size. Hint: the likely decision makers at small companies are not the same as those at larger corporations.

What they donate: Companies are most likely to provide monetary donations and employee volunteer hours as methods of giving (77 percent for both). Group volunteering is encouraged in 72 percent of companies.

Whether they track volunteer hours: Though the number has been gradually trending upward over the past few years, only 36 percent of respondents said their company tracks volunteer hours. Tracking volunteer hours is a great way for companies to help measure this aspect of their contribution year over year.

Rodman said the good news for nonprofits is that corporate philanthropy is strong in Central Texas – and it continues to trend in the right direction.

“More than two-thirds of survey respondents said their companies have philanthropic/giving budgets; and the majority of those budgets increased last year,” Rodman said.  She added, however, that some methods of engaging employees in philanthropy decreased, indicating that business leaders need to be mindful of supporting employee efforts.

“I believe the single most effective way to encourage employees to be more philanthropic is to provide a corporate match,” Rodman said. “This benefits the employer because it ties corporate support directly to the causes that are important to the employee base.”

The results in the Rodman Report are drawn from the responses of 134 Central Texas companies that participated in an online survey between January 19 and February 10, 2018.

The Rodman Report is available at, along with an infographic, “Central Texas:  Corporate Giving by the Numbers.” Rodman & Associates encourages the public to freely share and distribute the report and its data, especially among business leaders, employees, and nonprofit board members and professionals.

Are we doing our homework?


America is the most generous nation in the world, with nearly 1 million charities receiving public support. A few key motivators prompt our giving—our personal experience with an organization, a bricks and mortar presence, and the belief the organization will endure for the long term. Americans are the most generous to their churches, universities and hospitals, with 62% of annual giving to religion and education alone.

But what about all the other needs? And the worthy new initiatives? How do we make informed choices and ensure our giving is meaningful, effective and truly impactful?

Statistics indicate we could do better in researching and assessing our philanthropy. Less than half of all donors, 41%, do research into charities before they give and fewer than 1/5 assess the effectiveness of organizations in the same sector. Compare this to over 69,000,000 sources listed in a Google search to help us “Pick the Best Smartphone”.

Resources can help, like the Stanford Social Innovation Review, for information about how all sectors can be more impactful, and Charity Navigator for non-profit ratings and background. Two books, Give Smart: Philanthropy that Gets Results, by Thomas Tierney and Joel Fleishman and Giving 2.0: Transform Your Giving and Our World, by Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen can take philanthropists to a higher level of informed choice and impact. Here in Austin, you can see non-profit listings by focus area at I Live Here, I Give Here.

Are you interested in learning more about effective philanthropy? Rodman & Associates can support you in your aim to apply best practices, conduct individualized research and assess outcomes of the non-profits in your area of interest and prioritize future gifts. Let us bring our years of experience and multiple resources to these important tasks.

Four Pillars of Philanthropic Impact

Pillars of Philanthropic Impact

The media these days is full of articles, blogs, research papers and enthusiastic descriptions of new ways of engaging in philanthropy, most of which employ the words ‘impact’, or ‘investment’. This is in contrast to the old-fashioned words ‘charity’ or ‘goodwill’. The focus has moved from a philanthropist making donation to an initiative, to an entrepreneur making an investment in that initiative. Much of this change in perspective is driven by young, successful business visionaries entering the philanthropic space and bringing with them new language to describe what they expect their generosity to accomplish. They also bring the governing principles used in successful startups and business models and expect to apply these principles to their philanthropy.

Four pillars are often seen in this modern view. These pillars are not new, they have been part of the philanthropic landscape for decades, but they have risen more firmly to the top of expectations and conditions for giving. The first is a documented need, not just one that tugs the heart, but a condition that is clearly documented to threaten or damage a population or environment. Second is an organization’s ability to scale their efforts to address larger, greater goals around this need over time. Measurable outcomes are even more critical to today’s social impact investors, and these outcomes are identified on the front end as goals or expectations, before they are achieved. Finally, philanthropic organizations soliciting funding are increasingly expected to have earned revenue as a component of their efforts and not be entirely dependent on donor support.

Many of the best known and successful global efforts use these pillars in their reporting and as proof of their success. The philanthropic model will determine the need in a foreign country where vaccines are unavailable, then calculate the ability to scale from one village effectively, to a region or even a nation or country. Providers will measure the health outcomes of the populous to prove success, and seek ways to bring in revenue from those who are able to pay, for example governments or hospitals, to insure the initiative can reach those too poor to pay and thereby replicate their efforts.

In most cases, these expectations are value added to the sector, bringing clarity and discipline to the work being done. One caution is that philanthropy will increasingly be focused on initiatives that inherently conform to this model, while leaving behind those needs that are too desperate, small, messy or difficult to attract this kind of funding. Let’s hope this great next generation of entrepreneurs entering the sector can help all of us figure out how to solve these problems as well.

Some Good News in the Tax Bill

Here comes the New Year, and with it the new tax law. Reviews tell us that as the nation ages, the new law shifts many benefits to younger families. But there is a special tax break available just for seniors, passed by congress in 2016, and it doesn’t go away in the New Year. In fact, the newly signed tax bill makes it even more advantageous.  It’s called a qualified charitable distribution and only applies to Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs).

Did you know that if you are 70 ½ or older and taking mandatory distributions from your IRA, you can convert these withdrawals from taxable income into a tax-free event? When you donate your IRA distribution directly to an eligible non-profit as a charitable contribution, the event is not taxable as income and it may even lower your total Adjusted Gross Income.

If you do not need your IRA assets to support your current or future living costs, this may be your best charitable giving strategy going forward.  The exemption is good for up to $100,000 of IRA assets annually.  That’s a big benefit! Especially if, with the new, higher standard deduction, you may no longer be itemizing your charitable gifts.

Also, consider that IRA assets increase the tax liability for your estate after your death. By distributing these assets to charity during your lifetime or as part of your estate planning as a charitable rollover, you can eliminate the taxes on these assets.

At Rodman & Associates, we would be happy to work with you, and your financial advisors, to strategize sequential gifts to the charity or charities of your choice. By using IRA assets for your giving, you can help dreams to come true for the causes you support, during your lifetime and beyond.

See, Santa does come to visit, even to seniors!

Is 2017 the last year you take a Charitable Tax Deduction?

We will not know for certain until the final vote, but it appears we may have only a few weeks remaining to get in front of expiring tax provisions. Both the Senate and the House version of tax reform include an increase in the standard deduction, while eliminating many other deductions. That means in the future, fewer people will benefit from itemizing their deductions, such as charitable donations.

Below we offer a few key charitable strategies to consider before the close of 2017:

  • If you have made a multi-year pledge, pool the pledges made toward upcoming years and give now.
  • Ask a charity if you can pre-pay for annual subscriptions or memberships in advance.
  • Establish a Donor Advised Fund and contribute as much as possible.
  • In the future, it may make sense to “bunch your donations”, e.g. make your charitable gifts every other year in order to increase the amount and get them over the standard deduction threshold.

And in closing, here is a few ideas for family gifts that include deductions. Contribute to an IRA for your adult children who have earned income, but do not yet have available assets to contribute to retirement. Contribute to the education foundations where your children or grandchildren attend school in their names. Invite family members to make a joint giving decision, complete with a family visit to the charity you wish to support.

Sometimes Charity Begins at Home

Whenever we sit down to visit with new clients about the most important things for them to pass down to the following generations, we hear about values, faith, family stories and life lessons. Occasionally we hear about a personal possession with a strong emotional value. Inevitably it takes a while to come around to financial assets and real estate.

What is money for?
How do you view your wealth?
What is your obligation to the younger generation, and to the world at large?
Top of mind for many of Rodman & Associates’ clients is “how do we raise charitable offspring”?

Philanthropy is a powerful tool for strengthening family ties. This Thanksgiving season, let charity begin at home.

Wondering where to start?  Actively seek volunteer opportunities that allow the entire family to participate:

  • Hold a family-wide garage sale and donate all the proceeds to charity
  • Form a Family Giving Circle with a group of friends: each family contributes a pre-determined amount to the pooled fund and working together, over the course of a few weeks, determine where that money will go
  • If you are fortunate enough to have a Turkey Trot in your community, sign up as a family today
  • Clean your neighborhood park, greenbelt or school yard
  • Deliver meals or pizza to an affordable housing complex; it  is nice to include a gift card to the neighborhood grocery store for those favorite items and treats. offers a feature that allows you to search for volunteer activities by zip code and time frame. Be sure to apply the Family Friendly filter!

 It is not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them,
that is the true measure of thanksgiving
.  –W.T. Purkiser

Gary Cooper

I’ve known Austin’s Gary Cooper for years, as a fine man and an effective community activist. Recently I learned that as a youth he received a full college scholarship from a successful businessman he was referred to by a newspaper editor who had interviewed Gary at his inner-city high school. Gary knew this was a gift he should pay forward and when the time came, he chose another fine young man, David Reyna, as his recipient. (Read David and Gary’s story here )

Gary had known David since he was 5 years old, when his mother began working for Gary. Gary has funded David’s dental care for several years, and now is paying college tuition, housing and transportation for David as he pursues his dream of becoming a petroleum engineer. Gary is also introducing him to engineering professionals and community cultural events to expand his vision and encourage his aspirations. I asked Gary to lunch so I could learn more about this compelling philanthropic story. I learned much more.

Gary had a hardscrabble youth. He had multiple stepfathers, earned his own way from an early age, was forced to leave home while still in high school and endured a mistaken arrest and near imprisonment in his late teens. But other experiences shaped him as well: a Hispanic family that made room for him to come live in their already crowded home, a stint as a VISTA volunteer with farmworkers in California, as well as service and leadership during the early years of the AIDS crisis after he tested positive for HIV himself. What did Gary learn from his experiences? “It is in the act of giving that we find grace,” he told me. Grace—that deeply mysterious word that helps explain how we are able to endure in the face of the unendurable.

Then he added, “I believe we find our own courage in the act of encouraging and helping others.” Giving to others makes us more whole, it makes us strong, it makes us brave enough to confront the difficulties of our imperfect lives. Generosity has advantages for the other, but profound advantages for the self as well.

In closing, Gary let me know he is now challenging his former classmates at North Dallas High by offering a matching grant to provide services that help the school’s current students have a rich extracurricular experience in spite of the burden of poverty and in some cases, homelessness. Then he smiled and said, “People tell this story like I am so good, so generous. That’s not it. The truth is that through this experience I am having the best time of my life”.

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Austinites Annual Charitable Donations Revealed: Average $6,249 per tax payer


Do you earn $50,000 or more?  Itemized tax returns of U.S. Citizens earning $50,000 or more were examined to determine giving habits in the 50 largest U.S. cities.

This data represents almost 80 percent of all individual charitable contributions and offers the best possible view into charitable giving in distinct metropolitan areas.

A breakdown of top Texas cities:

Austin Metro area

Population: 1.9 Million

Average annual charitable donation: $6,249

Percent of income donated to charity:  3.0%

San Antonio Metro area

Population: 2.3 Million

Average annual charitable donation: $6,576

Percent of income donated to charity:  3.8%

Houston Metro area

Population: 6.3 Million

Average annual charitable donation: $7,949

Percent of income donated to charity:  3.7%

Dallas Metro area

Population:6.8 Million

Average annual charitable donation: $7,626

Percent of income donated to charity:  3.8%

Although the report benchmarks Austin against the top largest 50 cities in the United States, it is important to note that Texas is unique as the percentage of Texans who itemize on their tax return may be lower.

Lisa Rodman, President, Rodman & Associates, explains, “Texans, who may be giving generously, would not be reflected in this study if they did not itemize on their tax return.  As Texas does not have a State income tax, fewer residents may be itemizing.  And in Austin, where housing is especially expensive, those who do not purchase a home might not itemize to take advantage of the mortgage tax deduction either.”

“For most Americans, charitable giving is completely framed by their percent of discretionary income.  Austin’s high cost of living may, in the future, diminish the amount our citizens are able to support local charities.  This is something we continue to watch”.

Social Impact Investing Explained

For decades, the primary tool available to philanthropists were cash gifts and grants to nonprofit organizations. In the ‘60s that began to change as forward thinking organizations started offering low-interest loans to create low-income housing.  Today philanthropists employ multiple tools to harness the power of capital markets and spur societal change:

  • Debt offerings such as bonds to improve municipal water systems
  • Microfinance
  • Deposits with Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), and
  • Mission Related Investments, such as investing in new diagnostic technology to improve health outcomes.

These examples illustrate how strategic financial investments, coupled with innovate business models, can serve as a catalyst for an even greater impact.

In fact many entrepreneurs argue that the world’s most pressing large scale problems might better be addressed by business rather than nonprofits at all—universal access to high-speed internet, tackling global waste (e.g. resource recovery) and, as featured in this WIRED Magazine article, phone applications to enable individuals and families to manage food stamp benefits.

All donors want confirmation that their dollars are being put to work in a measurable way.  Social Impact investors measure their return on investment by benchmarking social outcomes and financial returns.

Two common reasons impact investors partner with Rodman & Associates is to receive support for a one-time need, such as drafting an Investment Policy or research into a specific field of interest, and to increase long term capacity through annual evaluations of social return, which can insure the needle is moving–and in the right direction.

Interested in learning more about Impact Investing for yourself or your clients?  Let’s have lunch.

Creating a Meaningful Legacy No Longer Requires Great Wealth

American philanthropy has multiplied 6 ½ times since the 1950’s. As our giving grows, the ways to create a philanthropic legacy have extended beyond naming a building or establishing a large endowment. While 91% of high net worth families give to charity, 59% of families with moderate incomes also give, and creating a meaningful legacy no longer requires great wealth. Today, having an enduring, positive effect on a cherished cause or organization can be achieved through service, leadership and donations during life—as well as through gifts from your estate.

Creating a meaningful legacy relies on the combination of clear intent on the part of the donor, thoughtful communication regarding the current and longer term needs of the benefitting organization and an assessment of financial capacity—at present, in the years to come and after death. Addressing each of these will benefit from collaboration with a skilled philanthropic advisor, to thoughtfully engage with your existing estate and financial advisors and the benefiting nonprofits, to arrive at the most effective strategy. Bringing the next generation into these conversations results in deeper family ties, more purposeful philanthropy and can extend the family legacy through generations.

This longer view often results in a combination of aligned gifts. For instance, a one-time gift for a particular program or initiative, with annual support to sustain that gift and finally a bequest that will allow the organization to take your generosity to the next level. Taken together, this is a powerful legacy.

There are many estate planning strategies that do not require complicated and expensive financial instruments. For example, simply designating a non-profit as the beneficiary of all, or a percentage, of your IRA will support your philanthropy, reduce the taxes on your estate and does not require added legal advice. The same is true for other retirement plans, insurance policies and annuities.

Want to learn more about Legacy Giving? Click through to our Q&A with Joy Selak, CAP® Legacy Giving Q&A