Donations to many Arizona charities dipped in 2022, but it’s been no surprise to fundraisers watching inflation, gas prices and an unstable stock market eat into the amount donors are able to give.
The 2022-23 Season for Sharing campaign hasn’t been immune to the trend. As of last week, donations lagged about 10% year over year. The campaign continues through Jan. 31.
“The downturn of the economy is starting to have an impact on individual donations,” said Aimee Runyon, CEO of the Assistance League of Phoenix, which provides students with shoes and other clothing through its Operation School Bell initiative.
“The unfortunate thing is that the economic conditions have also created a higher need for services.”
Last year, Season for Sharing raised $1.8 million and − because The Arizona Republic covers all administrative costs − gave 100% of it away to 164 nonprofits that help older adults, struggling families, students and teachers. Since it began in 1993, Season for Sharing has raised $72 million for groups statewide.
Previous grantees including the American Red Cross, Harvest Compassion Center, Hospice of the Valley, A New Leaf, Free Arts and Treasures for Teachers understand that the more Season for Sharing raises, the more help the annual campaign can be to their organizations. They have rallied on social media this month to help Season for Sharing, nudging supporters to dig a little deeper.
Some of those watching donations drop off speculate that Arizona taxpayers are strategizing a little differently this year: “Donors want to give, but may be holding their money longer, until the April 15 tax deadline, so that they get their tax credit back faster,” said Christina Fankhauser of Catholic Charities Community Services.
Nonprofits that work in foster care, education and a few other spaces can be listed as “qualified charitable organizations” by the state Department of Revenue, which allows tax credits in return for donations.
Not so for The Republic’s Season for Sharing, which uses the nonprofit Arizona Community Foundation as a fiscal partner. The annual initiative is, instead, considered an “umbrella organization” because it gives to multiple nonprofits. A Season for Sharing donation could qualify for a tax credit if grants went exclusively to state-qualified groups.
About a third of Season for Sharing’s grantees last year, including most of those that aid older adults, are not on the state list.
Nonprofits fill the gaps when government support waxes and wanes and when the public’s attention turns to the next shiny-object cause. For almost 30 years, Season for Sharing has supported the charities with individual donations from subscribers and others. Donations are matched to a certain point by the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust.
Peak Season for Sharing fundraising is mid-November through Jan. 31, although donations are accepted year-round.
“During the holidays, we want the families we serve to know they are not alone,” said Patricia Klahr, president and CEO of the Chrysalis shelter for survivors of domestic violence, where a volunteer-cooked meal and gifts for every child were provided on Christmas morning.
The warm, fuzzy feelings of the holidays may be history, but Season for Sharing fundraising continues through midnight Jan. 31.