DataHaven to Launch Innovation Awards to Recognize Data-based Initiatives in CT

In conjunction with its 25th anniversary celebration this year, New Haven-based DataHaven has announced plan to launch the DataHaven Innovation Awards, which will be open to nominees from throughout the state. Winners will be selected in a number of education and community impact categories. Nomination will be accepted through October 1, and the award recipients will be announced at DataHaven’s 25th Anniversary Celebration on November 19, 2018. DataHaven is a non-profit organization with a history of public service to Greater New Haven and Connecticut. The organization’s mission is to improve quality of life by collecting, sharing, and interpreting public data for effective decision making.

“We are proud to highlight the creativity and ingenuity of those who employ data to make Connecticut a better place,” explained DataHaven Executive Director Mark Abraham. The awards will recognize organizations, groups and individuals who have demonstrated the ability to use data to improve the well-being of Connecticut communities.

The inaugural Data in Education Awards will recognize the outstanding use of data for projects developed within a classroom or educational setting. Nominations will be accepted in two categories, University and Graduate Level and K-12 Level.  Nominees can include teachers, students, school-based organizations, and non-profits working with youth.

The Data for Community Impact Awards will recognize the outstanding use of data to make a positive difference in one or more Connecticut communities. Nominations will be accepted in two categories: Large Organization, with more than 20 employees, and Small Organization, with less than 20 employees.  Nominees can include nonprofits, for-profits, funders, unincorporated groups, and municipal/state agencies.

Liberty Bank Foundation is underwriting the DataHaven Innovation Awards.

DataHaven maintains extensive economic, social, and health data, including information collected through the DataHaven Community Wellbeing Surveys in 2012 and 2015. DataHaven is a formal partner of the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership of the Urban Institute in Washington, DC.

“We believe that data is a powerful force, uniting our state and helping make life better in Connecticut communities,” says Abraham. “Our statewide survey provides neighborhood-level data in key areas such as health, education, civic engagement and economic opportunity, so that programs and resources can be deployed to change lives for the better. Our goal is still to make life better for our neighbors.”

Presenting sponsors for the organization’s 25th anniversary year are the City of New Haven, Yale University, Yale New Haven Health and The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.  Nomination forms for the DataHaven Innovation Awards can be found at and are due by October 1, 2018.

Power of Nature to Help Cities and Local Residents Being Revealed in Bridgeport

What would happen if ways to integrate nature into a major urban community were pursued?  In Connecticut, the largest city is Bridgeport, and the Connecticut chapter of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has been undertaking an effort to find out. Nature offers a lot of benefits to communities, TNC points out. “Trees provide shade and help clean the air. Gardens absorb and filter water, which reduces flooding and runoff into nearby rivers. Healthy dunes and wetlands protect coastlines from storms.”  In addition, the organization points out, “nature can also transform the way people experience their neighborhood.”

With 70 percent of the world’s population predicted to live in cities by 2050, heat and air pollution constitute a major public health concern, TNC points out, underscoring the importance of the organization’s initiatives to plant trees in urban areas across the country, among a series of related undertakings.

“People are at the core of our efforts to identify how neighborhoods are addressing daunting challenges in this formerly industrialized city,” said Drew Goldsman, Urban Conservation Program Manager. “We want to partner with communities to implement natural solutions in Bridgeport that help both people and nature.”

Their Eco-Urban Assessment looked at areas in Bridgeport that have poor air quality, high risk of flooding, and limited access to nearby green spaces and layered it with data on income level, impervious surfaces and asthma rates. The team was able to pinpoint neighborhoods where trees, green stormwater systems and open spaces will make the biggest difference for people and nature.  Air quality and flood risk topped the list of most acute needs.

In collaboration with local partners, the Conservancy is supporting a neighborhood-led greening effort known as ‘Green Connections’ in Bridgeport’s East Side neighborhood. Creating a plan for ways natural resources can shape the future of the community while making immediate changes to the landscape —through tree plantings and green stormwater infrastructure projects— is one of the initiative’s main goals, along with empowering volunteer stewards living in the community to take ownership of these natural areas. All of this helps create safe spaces for the community to gather, provides cooler and cleaner air, and improves wildlife habitat in the city.

According to the Nature Conservancy, Bridgeport currently has a 19% tree canopy cover, for example.  If all open spaces, vacant lots and parking lots could be planted, the city would have a 62% tree canopy cover.  The ramifications would be substantial, impacting various health and quality of life factors.

“Healthier people, cooler temperatures in the summer, cleaner air, reduced flooding, more urban habitat, parks and forests, less sewage overflow, a clean Pequannock River a more resilient coastline and green jobs” are cited as potential benefits.

The national publication Governing pointed out last year that “Streets cover about a third of the land in cities, and they account for half of the impervious surfaces in cities. Impervious surfaces don’t allow water to soak through them, which means they can alter the natural flow of rainwater. City streets collect, channel, pollute and sometimes even speed along water as it heads to the sewers.”

Goldsman indicates that currently efforts are focusing on the city of Bridgeport, but the Eco-Urban Assessment model is available to urban communities that want a deeper understanding of where nature can bring solutions to some of the most pressing urban issues.

“With the Eco-Urban Assessment model, we’re able to help municipalities identify the places and ways we can work together to use nature to improve residents’ quality of life and build more sustainable communities,” said Dr. Frogard Ryan, Connecticut state director for The Nature Conservancy. “From the beginning, we wanted this to be a community-led and TNC-supported program. Residents help us identify areas of other focus that aren’t highlighted by the model and be sure our study reflects what people experience day-to-day.”

Foodshare Ups Commitment to Healthier Young People, Communities

Foodshare has signed a three-year commitment with the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA),  a national nonpartisan nonprofit led by some of the most respected health and childhood obesity experts in the country, along with health advocates such as former First Lady Michelle Obama and U.S. Senators Bill Frist and Cory Booker. Earlier this month, Foodshare was recognized as a new healthy Food Assistant Partner at the 2018 PHA Summit in Washington, DC. The program “elevates and accelerates the work of food banks and large-scale food pantries committed to addressing hunger and malnutrition,” according to PHA.   

At the organization’s annual Summit in 2018, “we were thrilled to welcome Foodshare as one of several new partners in this program.”  More than 15 million U.S. children live in “food insecure” households, according to PHA.

Dr. Katie Martin, the nonprofit’s Chief Strategy Officer, represented Foodshare at the Summit.  In a recent article that she co-authored, Martin pointed out “food pantries have significant potential to promote better nutrition for the communities they serve,” adding that “recent national data show that 63 percent of households who visit food pantries acquire food through the charitable food system on a regular basis to help with their monthly food budget.”

As part of the commitment, Foodshare has agreed to:

  • Use a nutrition stoplight system to rank the nutritional quality of food in our inventory;
  • Increase the amount of nutritious food and beverage distributed through our network;
  • Increase the demand for healthy food and multiply its impact with promotional materials.

“This is an exciting opportunity for all of us at Foodshare. More produce and healthier options: that’s the future of food banking,” said Jason Jakubowski, President and CEO of Foodshare.

Foodshare is the regional food bank serving Connecticut’s Hartford and Tolland counties, where 121,000 people struggle with hunger. As a PHA partner, Foodshare will increase supply and foster demand for healthier options in several ways, such as evaluating the nutritional quality of at least 50 percent of the food in its inventory, increasing the amount of nutritious food and beverages it distributes, and incentivizing the organizations it works with to select more nutritious foods.

Foodshare joins ten other partner food banks from across the country, as well as Feeding America, in this national partnership. Created in 2010 with the goal of ending the national epidemic of childhood obesity within a generation, PHA’s strategy rests on transforming the marketplace, so that the healthy choice becomes the easy choice for American families.

Senior Deaths from Falls Climbs Nationally, in Connecticut, During Past Decade

Fatal falls among senior citizens are on the rise in Connecticut and across the United States, according to a new government report. The overall rate of older adult deaths from falls increased 31 percent from 2007 to 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2016, a total of 29,668 Americans ages 65 and older died as a result of a fall - that is 61.6 out of every 100,000 senior citizens that year. A decade earlier, in 2007, there were 47 fall-related deaths for every 100,000 senior citizens.  Connecticut’s rate was the 17th lowest in the nation among the 50 states and District of Columbia.  The only New England state with a lower rate was Massachusetts. 

In Connecticut, the number of deaths of persons age 65 or older attributable to falls increased from 243 in 2007 to 357 in 2016. The death rates from falls ranged from 24.4 per 100,000 in Alabama to 142.7 per 100,000 in Wisconsin.  Connecticut’s rate was 56.9 per 100,000 in 2016, an increase from 44.9 per 100,000 in 2007.

Falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths among people who are at least 65 years old, according to the report. Deaths from unintentional injuries are the seventh-leading cause of death among older adults, and falls account for the largest percentage of those deaths, the CDC said. The CDC has previously noted that less than half tell their doctor that they have fallen, and that falling once doubles your chances of falling again.

The rate of deaths from falls increased in the United States by an average of 3.0% per year during 2007–2016, and the rate increased in 30 states and the District of Columbia (DC) during that period.

The largest AAPC in mortality rates from falls (11.0% per year) occurred in Maine, followed by Oklahoma (10.9%) and West Virginia (7.8%). A significant increase in the rate from 2007 to 2016 occurred in 30 states, including Connecticut. There was no significant change in fall mortality rates in 11 states.

Once every 19 minutes, a senior citizen in America dies as a result of injuries sustained during a fall.  The older Americans became, the greater their risk of dying from a fall. In 2016, there were 15.6 fatal falls for every 100,000 Americans between the ages of 65 and 74. Among adults ages 75 to 84, there were 61.4 such deaths per 100,000 people. And for those ages 85 and up, there were 247.9 fatal falls per 100,000 people.

The data was included in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published last week. To reduce older adult falls, CDC created the Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths, and Injuries (STEADI) initiative to help clinicians make fall prevention part of their clinical practice. The CDC notes that more than 10,000 people in the U.S. turn 65 every day.

“As a result, the country will experience a growth in falls and fall injuries, resulting in a cost increase if preventive actions are not taken now,” the agency has pointed out.



Advancing Racial Equity in Nonprofits to be Among Themes for National Conference in Hartford

When members of the Alliance for Nonprofit Management, a national association based in St. Louis, hold their 20th anniversary conference this fall, they will be gathering in Hartford.  The conference, “Re-envisioning Our Field:  Advancing Racial Equity & Leading Innovation in Capacity Building,” will be held October 10-12 at the Hartford Hilton. The organization’s Board Chair is Anne Yurasek, Principal of Fio Partners, which is based in Chester, CT.  Yurasek has been an organizational development consultant and trainer for over twenty years in the nonprofit and private sector.

The Alliance is the “national voice and catalyst for the field of capacity building.”  The organization’s mission is to “increase the effectiveness of the individuals, groups and organizations that help nonprofits and communities achieve positive social change.”  The Alliance seeks to “create spaces for professional dialogue and learning by amplifying research in the field and promoting its implications for effective practice.”

More than 250 attendees will include consultants, coaches, funders, academics, and executives from across the country. The conference intends to “convene the diverse perspectives that shape and advance our field.”

The conference provides participants with the chance to “convene, dialogue, learn, shape and advance our field for the good of the nonprofits and communities we serve,” official explained.  The theme was selected because now “is a critical time for our field to reflect, to learn together, and to consider how our work should evolve to address racial inequities in our society. From amplifying emerging approaches to reflecting on research and exploring its implications for practice,” participants are urged to “bring your perspectives, experiences, and energy” to the annual conference.

The three-day event includes presentation opportunities with local nonprofits, work-sessions for Affinity & Interest Groups, twenty-plus workshop sessions “curated for capacity builders by capacity builders, and thought provoking plenary sessions.”

The Alliance for Nonprofit Management is the result of the 1997 merger of the Nonprofit Management Association and Support Centers of America. The organization is described as unique as a cross-sector professional association of individuals and organizations that are devoted to increasing the effectiveness of the individuals, groups and organizations that help nonprofits and communities achieve positive social change.

The 2017 conference was held in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Philanthropy 101?  CCSU to Offer Course, Capstone Project Aimed at Boosting Philanthropy

Throughout Connecticut, philanthropic organizations distribute more than a billion dollars every year and individuals donate nearly $4 billion more. Responding to both the State’s philanthropic needs and need for skilled philanthropy professionals, Central Connecticut State University is offering an innovative course in the practice of philanthropy beginning next semester. The ambitious 16-week course is to include 25 presenters from local nonprofit and philanthropic organizations, many based in New Britain, as is the CCSU campus.   As part of the course, students will study local needs, create a case study, and write a proposal following the American Savings Foundation grant-making guidelines.  Officials say that at the conclusion of the course, up to two of these projects may each be funded with a $5,000 grant from the American Savings Foundation.

Connecticut ranked 47th among the 50 states in philanthropic giving as a percentage of income, with a “giving ratio” of 2.4 percent, 25 percent lower than the national average, according to an analysis earlier this year by the Chronicle of Philanthropy. The giving ratio is the total of a locality’s charitable contributions as a share of its total adjusted gross income.

“They will learn more than just philosophy,” points out Professor Carol Shaw Austad, who will co-teach with former CCSU President Richard Judd. “This class is hands-on. Students will work in teams to design a philanthropic strategy. They will meet with New Britain nonprofits and evaluate impact, just like any foundation. We expect them to make a strong case statement for an organization or project.”

“There is so much to like about this course,” notes Maria Falvo, president of the American Savings Foundation.  “For one, many of these young people may go on to work at or volunteer with nonprofits. They may be fortunate enough to become donors themselves. This essential training lays the groundwork for a future in philanthropy,” Falvo says.

The giving percentage varied across the state, according to the Chronicle study:  the Fairfield County giving ratio was 2.8%, New Haven County and Litchfield counties 2.1%, Hartford County 1.9%, New London County 1.8%, Middlesex and Tolland Counties 1.7%, and Windham County 1.6%.

Donations from households earning $200,000 or more now total 52 percent of all itemized contributions. In the early 2000s, that number was consistently in the 30s, the Chronicle reported.  The report raises questions about the traditional habit of charitable donations among middle and low income individuals lessening, perhaps as a lingering after-effect of the recession. The Chronicle’s conclusion: “The number of households making room in their budgets for charitable giving is shrinking.”

CCSU President Dr. Zulma R. Toro said “I am especially pleased that this course engages our hometown of New Britain. This is a perfect example of what we mean by “CCSUConnected.” We are connecting to our communities in a mutually beneficial way by engaging our students academically in the life of our community. Our students learn skills and experiences that can prepare them for rewarding careers, and our communities can benefit from our students’ work focused on New Britain’s needs.”

“These community leaders are such a diverse and thoughtful group,” said Dr. Toro.  “Pastor Thomas Mills of Grace Church shares a session with New Britain Mayor (and CCSU alumna) Erin Stewart.  Dr. Ali Antar of the Berlin Mosque is on the agenda as is Dr. Claudia Thesing, formerly director of development at the New Britain Museum of American Art.  The speakers represent a real cross-section of the community.”

The course will run from January 17 to May 9, and is open to undergraduate students at CCSU.

Economic Impact of Travelers Championship Doubles in Past Six Years, Analysis Finds; 2017 Tournament is PGA Tour’s Best

The Travelers Championship has an annual economic impact on the state of $68.2 million, according to a recent study by Connecticut Economic Resource Center, Inc.(CERC)  – and the recognition of its success is not only local, but national.  The tournament has been selected by the PGA tour as recipient of the prestigious “Tournament of the Year” award for 2017. The Travelers Championship also won awards for “Most Fan-Friendly Event,” “Best Sales” and the inaugural “Players Choice.” CERC first conducted an impact analysis of the tournament in 2011, and completed another impact analysis for the Travelers Championship in 2017.  The results were compared, to look at the changes over time and factors that may have influenced changes in the tournament’s economic effects.

The results: The economic impact had more than doubled between 2011 and 2017, due to two primary factors; a much larger total number of spectators, especially the increased number of individuals from outside the state, and increased spending by the tournament in preparing for and administering the increased number of events that occur during the tournament week.

“The Tournament activities and events, along with all of its associated events throughout the year has grown substantially over the past few years, which has resulted in a large increase in the number of spectators from Connecticut and beyond its borders,” said Alissa DeJonge, Vice President of Research, CERC. “Attendance increased dramatically, which increased spending at the event and among the local businesses.”

With record attendance, sales and fan engagement, the 2017 Travelers Championship raised the bar across the board through a strategic approach that focused on providing a first-class experience for fans, players, sponsors, volunteers and charity, officials pointed out. This marks the first time that the Travelers Championship has been recognized as “Tournament of the Year.”

The Travelers Championship, which donates 100 percent of its net proceeds to charity, announced last month that the 2017 tournament generated $1.72 million for more than 165 local charities, including The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, the primary beneficiary of this summer’s tournament. With approximately 4,000 volunteers worked over 80,000 hours.

It is the largest core amount raised in the history of the tournament, officials pointed out. The record-setting 2017 total brings the total money generated to $14.7 million since Travelers became title sponsor in 2007. More than 750 charities have received funds from the tournament over that time.

“We’re proud of the partnerships we’ve built with local organizations that need help,” said Travelers Championship Tournament Director Nathan Grube. “Handing out these checks to so many worthy charities is the highlight of our year. We won’t forget the week we had at TPC River Highlands, with Jordan Spieth winning in such dramatic fashion and the celebration that ensued. But knowing that more than $1.7 million is being given to such a wide spectrum of nonprofits this year reminds us why we do this. It inspires us.”

As the “Most Fan-Friendly Event,” the tournament provided options for fans of all ages, including affordable access, more than 18 food and beverage locations, fan and kid zones and public on-site concerts. The tournament increased fan engagement by 441 percent through creative video and dynamic content, and following Spieth’s thrilling hole-out to win, the tournament handle trended on Twitter for nearly four hours and the video reached YouTube’s front page within 24 hours.

The tournament continued to enhance the player and caddie experience, providing a complimentary charter flight from the preceding event, healthy food options and a variety of special features including caddie appreciation day, a performance by Kevin Nealon and multiple off-site events. To determine the new “Players Choice” category, TOUR players were asked to vote for one event based on tournament services, hospitality, player and family amenities, community support and attendance.

“We work hard on making sure everyone who attends or participates in our event has a world-class experience, so no detail toward that goal is too small,” said Andy Bessette, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer of Travelers. “We are proud to associate our brand with the PGA Tour and this event, and are honored by this tremendous recognition. The best part is that any success we have means more money and attention raised for so many local charities that partner with the tournament.”

The 2018 Travelers Championship, will be held June 18-24 at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell.

Andy Bessette, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer of Travelers; Sarah Ficenec and Bob Santy, CERC; Nathan Grube, Tournament Director at Travelers Championship; and Alissa DeJonge, CERC

State Budget Woes Impacting Nonprofits, Grantmakers

The impact of the state’s ongoing fiscal crisis is reverberating through the state’s nonprofit community.  The Connecticut Council for Philanthropy (CCP), in a recent survey, found that about 25 percent of nonprofits answering the survey are currently responding to the state’s fiscal crisis. The vast majority of these grantmakers, responding with increased grant support to non-profit organizations. Some grantmakers, about 33 percent, are supporting conversations about non-profit mergers. And a smaller number, about 20 percent each, are offering learning programs and/or advocating. The survey results were shared in the CCP’s latest newsletter by president Karla Fortunato.

In analyzing the survey responses, CCP reports that many more foundations, about 44 percent of respondents, report that they plan to respond to the state's fiscal crisis. Again, the majority, about 50 percent, are planning to increase their grant support to non-profits. Even more, 57 percent, report they will support conversations about non-profit mergers, and still others, 42 percent, will offer learning programs to non-profits. A smaller number, 21 percent, plan to advocate or lobby.

“We think that the time is now to bring the philanthropic community together - to deepen our collective understanding of the current fiscal crisis, projections for out-years, and what roles philanthropy can play to mitigate short-term pain, to support evolution in the state's non-profit landscape, and to start developing longer-term strategies,” Fortunato said.

Most respondents reported that they are hearing from their grantees and that many of them are adjusting their work based on the state budget.  Among the actions being taken:  cutting programs and services, requesting bridge loans or gap funding, reducing or laying off staff, dipping into reserves, and reducing staff.  Concerns are also being raised about potential tax law changes that would impact nonprofits and concerns about meeting current needs, or possible reversal of past gains in providing services.  Grantees also report hearing from organizations seeking support that had not requested support previously, being driven by state cutbacks or anticipated cutbacks.

While many respondents noted that they are having conversations internally at their organizations or with their colleagues, most acknowledged that more information is needed and more conversations need to be had. They noted that discussions among foundations, and in collaboration with nonprofits or other partners, are critical. Fortunato reported that suggestions for CCP leadership highlighted three areas of focus, described as advocacy, inform and convene.

Advocacy includes helping to organize a unified response; advocating for a responsible, equitable budget; and making sure legislators understand that philanthropy cannot fill government's gaps. CCP members also look to the organization to keep them up-to-date on budget matters and other policies impacting nonprofits, sharing what others are doing, and exploring and sharing possible solutions.  They also look to CCP to convene forums to deepen understanding; bring nonprofits together to learn together what funders can consider doing; and help nonprofits understand what is needed immediately to mitigate short-term harm and assist in the development of a long-term strategy.

Fortunato joined CCP in May as the organization's president, after 13 years at the Health and Environmental Funders Network (HEFN), a national alliance of 60 philanthropic organizations based in Rockville, Md.  At her departure from HEFN, the organization commended her "professionalism, pragmatism, and persistence" in advancing and extending the organization's mission and objectives.


Award-Winning Accelerator Prepares for Next Cohort of Start-up Businesses

reSET, a Hartford-based non-profit organization supporting entrepreneurs, has opened applications for its highly regarded business accelerator program for 2018. Tailored for impact-driven businesses but available to early-stage ventures across all industries, reSET’s Impact Accelerator was a winner of the U.S. Small Business Administration Growth Accelerator Competition, and was the only Connecticut accelerator to receive the award, in 2015. Running from next January through May, the five-year old program will provide entrepreneurs with access to the knowledge and resources they need to grow their businesses and impact. Applications are being reviewed on a rolling basis; the final deadline is December 8, 2017.  Applicants are not limited to the Hartford area or Connecticut; in previous cohorts, participants have been from other states and nations.

reSET is a nonprofit organization whose mission is advancing the social enterprise sector. Its strategic goals are threefold: to be the “go-to” place for impact entrepreneurs, to make Hartford known as Impact City, and Connecticut the Social Enterprise state. reSET meets entrepreneurs wherever they are in their trajectory and aims to help them take their businesses to the next level.

The accelerator program has graduated 80 businesses to date. Recent participants have experienced success in advancing their businesses, including competitor acquisition, venture capital investment, and nationwide sales and recognition. 

Among the businesses are Almasuite, CareerPathMobile, Phood, Pelletric, Eureeka, Save America, and Genius Box. Kate Pipa, co-founder of Genius Box, which develops and sends science kits to elementary and middle-school age children, credits the Impact Accelerator with helping her business gain traction.

“reSET’s Impact Accelerator was a great stepping stone for getting introduced to and more involved in Connecticut’s startup scene.  Just being in reSET’s community allowed for access to workshops, mentors and service providers to answers questions and provide advice on different challenges that can come up when starting your business.”

Over the course of four weekend summits during the accelerator program, participants selected for the 2018 cohort will be connected to customers and industry-specific mentors. Up to 20 entrepreneurial teams will have access to:

  • 20+ optional workshops covering a range of topics in business and social enterprise
  • Numerous structured and unstructured opportunities to engage with investors and advisors
  • 1-year reSET membership (includes access to co-working, programming and the on-site Entrepreneur-in-Residence)
  • Exclusive discounts on business software packages and other resources

The accelerator will be free for accepted entrepreneurs and no equity will be taken from their operations. Graduates will also have an opportunity to compete for $20,000 in unrestricted funding at a culminating Venture Showcase in Spring 2018.

“As an entrepreneur myself, I have experienced the ups and downs of launching a new business,” said Jeremy Szechenyi, reSET’s Programs Manager. “Between reSET’s physical office and programs, we give entrepreneurs the resources and network that is critical to surviving and bringing their work to the next level.”

An information sessions will be held at reSET  (1429 Park Street, Hartford) on October 26 from 12:30-1:30pm, and November 15 from 5:30-6:30pm.  The sessions will be informal and meant to address prospective candidates questions.

reSET serves all entrepreneurs, but specializes in social enterprise ― impact driven business with a double or triple bottom line. In addition to providing co-working space, accelerator and mentoring programs, reSET aims to inspire innovation and community collaboration, and to support entrepreneurs in creating market-based solutions to community challenges.

Philanthropic Giving Levels in Connecticut Among Nation’s Lowest As Percentage of Income

Connecticut ranked 47th among the 50 states in philanthropic giving as a percentage of income, with a “giving ratio” of 2.4 percent, 25 percent lower than the national average, according to a new analysis by the Chronicle of Philanthropy. The giving ratio is the total of a locality’s charitable contributions as a share of its total adjusted gross income. Among the states in the region, Vermont ranked 45th, Massachusetts was 46th, and Rhode Island was 50th.

Nationally, the Chronicle report “How America Gives” highlighted the growing influence of the affluent in charitable giving across the country.  Although charitable donations rose for the third straight year in 2016, reaching $390.1 billion, according to "Giving USA," the Chronicle study indicates the sources of those donations are changing.

Donations from households earning $200,000 or more now total 52 percent of all itemized contributions. In the early 2000s, that number was consistently in the 30s, the Chronicle reported.  The report raises questions about the traditional habit of charitable donations among middle and low income individuals lessening, perhaps as a lingering after-effect of the recession.

Connecticut ranked 20th in total giving, despite having the 29th largest population among the states, with average giving per itemizer of $5,229, which placed the state squarely in the middle, ranking 25th.

The Chronicle provides an analysis of the giving patterns of Americans who earn $50,000 or more annually and who itemize charitable deductions on their income-tax returns. The itemized giving of these taxpayers, in 2015, represents nearly 80 percent of all individual charitable contributions and offers the best possible view into giving at local and regional levels, the Chronicle explains.

Nationally, only 24 percent of taxpayers reported a charitable gift, according to the Chronicle analysis of Internal Revenue Service data. That’s down from 2000 to 2006, years when that figure routinely reached 30 or 31 percent.  The Chronicle’s conclusion: “The number of households making room in their budgets for charitable giving is shrinking.”

In all but six states – including Connecticut – the percentage of those in the $200,000 plus bracket increased in 2015, the most recent year in which data was available. Only in Connecticut, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, and Rhode Island was the percentage of those giving in that earnings bracket less that year, compared with 2012.

In Connecticut, individuals earning more than $200,000 gave 66.4 percent of all Connecticut giving, down 1.7 percent from 2012, according to the Chronicle analysis.  The portion of all givers in this income bracket in Connecticut down 0.2 percent while the giving per itemizer is down 20.6 percent.  In looking at the state’s major metropolitan areas, greater Bridgeport, Hartford, and New Haven, the analysis round that giving rates for taxpayers at four income levels fell below the average for the size group in each of the metropolitan areas.

The Chronicle reports that “Charity leaders say government funding has dwindled as corporate support has grown finicky. At the same time, America’s wealth has become more concentrated among the wealthy.”  The publication noted that “groups traditionally fueled by small gifts are also jumping into big-gift fundraising,” adding that “Middle-class woes and the country’s widening income disparity are undoubtedly partly to blame. But some fear that organizations are contributing to the problem by courting the well-heeled and slighting the small donor.”

The giving percentage varied across the state:  the Fairfield County giving ratio was 2.8%, New Haven County and Litchfield counties 2.1%, Hartford County 1.9%, New London County 1.8%, Middlesex and Tolland Counties 1.7%, and Windham County 1.6%.