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Pittsburgh Foundation Gets Unusual End Of Year Fundraising Boost Due To Election

Joshua Franzos
Pittsburgh Foundation
Pittsburgh Foundation President and CEO Maxwell King says political uncertainty contributed to late influx of donations.

An unusual election season led to an unusual donation pattern for the Pittsburgh Foundation in 2016—an influx of $18 million in donations came in the last four weeks of the year. That’s nearly double the amount from the same period in 2015.

President and CEO Maxwell King said there are a couple of likely reasons for the late donations.

“People were holding off on giving in late summer, early fall, probably because of the political uncertainty in the country,” said King. “One of the aspects that motivated donors toward the end of the year was a concern that in the coming year, there may be major changes to the tax code, and those changes could put them in a different position in terms of claiming charitable deductions.”

As for 2017, King says there’s a lot of uncertainty. He recently visited Washington, D.C. and said he heard the same thing from lawmakers of both parties in terms of federal funding for human services and changes to the tax code – they don’t know. The Pittsburgh Foundation, he said, will continue to focus on the 100 Percent Pittsburgh organizing principle. Last year, 60 percent of discretionary grant dollars went toward that initiative, which targets specific populations including youth and single women with children.

“We’ve been very concerned that a lot of people, maybe 30 to 35 percent of the population, may be getting left out of this renaissance, getting left out of the opportunities,” said King.  

The Pittsburgh Foundation is the third largest philanthropic organization in the region and the 13th largest community foundation in the U.S. The foundation raised $44.6 million in 2016, the seventh consecutive year they’ve passed the $40 million mark. 

90.5 WESA receives funding from the Pittsburgh Foundation.