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Where generosity abounds

Oregonians have shown once again they are very generous with both their money and their time. And, in 2014, Oregonians were especially big-hearted in their support of Rogue Valley area nonprofits.

The 2016 Giving in Oregon report released last week by the Oregon Community Foundation found that between 2013 and 2014, charitable contributions to nonprofit organizations grew 39 percent in Jackson County and an astounding 98 percent in Josephine County.

More than $76 million was dispersed to 689 organizations in Jackson County, and 260 programs in Josephine County were beneficiaries of nearly $19 million.

In 2014, the top 10 beneficiaries in Jackson County received more than $36 million from foundations, endowments and individual donors. In Josephine County, approximately $13.4 million was divvied up among the top 10.

Overall, Oregon nonprofits received $2.1 billion in donations in 2014, up from $1.76 billion in 2013 — a 19 percent increase. Since 2010, charitable contributions within the state’s nonprofit sector have grown by 40 percent, or nearly $600 million.

OCF has tracked philanthropy and its effects on the state’s nonprofit sector for more than a dozen years; 2014 is the latest year for which complete IRS data is available.

Nonprofits in the state’s most populated and most wealthy county — Multnomah — received more than $1 billion, or nearly half of the contributions. However, contributions to local rural counties far outpaced Multnomah’s 8 percent growth rate.

“Historically, Oregonians have always been generous with their money and their time,” says Caitlin Ruffenach, a researcher and data analyst for OCF. Even so, she says, she was surprised by the surge in 2014.

“Year to year, there is always some movement,” she adds. “Between 2012 and 2013, giving was flat … a few decreases and very little increase. So, yes, I was surprised by the numbers.”

What’s behind the dramatic increase in philanthropy in Jackson and Josephine counties?

“I am afraid I don’t have specific details,” Ruffenach says.

Sometimes, she says, it comes down to an organization or organizations “having a particularly good giving campaign.”

“I can only theorize,” she adds.

The state’s economic growth over the last two years may account for some of the increase, she says. And, in many cases, where state and federal funds have dwindled or dried up, philanthropists are covering the shortfall.

Also, individual reporting of charitable contributions increased in Josephine County, with 1 in 4 individuals listing tax-deductible gifts.

Whatever the cause for the increased giving, Ruffenach expects the trend to continue.

The education sector in Oregon continues to be the biggest beneficiary of contributions, receiving nearly one-third of all contributions, or $664 million in 2014. The big three — University of Oregon, Oregon State University and Portland State University — received the lion’s share.

After education, health, human services and housing nonprofits saw the largest increases in the dollar amount of contributions.

Ruffenach says the education sector in Jackson County received 20 percent of contributions, while in Josephine County, organizations devoted to environmental quality garnered 30 percent of the funds.

Other data released in the report show that individual Oregonians donated more as a percentage of their income in 2014 compared to 2013 and 2010. In 2014, Oregonians reported giving 2.28 percent of their adjusted gross income to charitable causes, compared with 2.19 percent in 2013.

Ruffenach states that Oregonians gave at a higher rate in 2014 than the national rate and have done so since 2010.

Oregonians also contribute more of their income than their California counterparts. Californians gave 2.24 percent of their income, even though the 2014 median household income of $61,489 is higher compared to Oregon’s median household income of $50,521.

A companion report, Volunteering in Oregon, shows that Oregonians are also generous with their time.

The average annual number of hours volunteered by Oregonians is 35 percent higher than the national average, with Oregonians contributing an estimated 137 million hours in 2014.

Find more data on 2014 contributions as a percentage of income and contributions by Oregon county by reading the Giving in Oregon Report, and details about volunteering across the state in the Volunteering in Oregon Report.

Charity giving by Mail Tribune on Scribd

Volunteer Yulonda Nadeau helps sort and box donated food at ACCESS Inc. in Medford as part of the Food Project, one of the many ways Southern Oregonians give of their money and time. Mail Tribune file photo
Lola Smart, ACCESS Inc. warehouse co-coordinator, unloads a semitrailer of food donated by Food 4 Less owner Sherm Olsrud and his family. In 2014, ACCESS received $4.82 million in donations, the second highest in Jackson County after the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Mail Tribune file photo