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WEEKLY REVIEW: 2017 Tax Law’s Impact on Giving, More Chick-Fil-A Fallout, Jewish Donor Supports Christian Ministry, and a Christmas Toy Story 

Not So Simple.  The Tax and Jobs Act of 2017 was supposed to make filing tax returns simpler for middle-income Americans happy.  And it did accomplish that for some people.  According to the Tax Policy Center, the number of itemizers dropped from 37 million in 2017 to 16 million in 2018 and the number of middle-income households claiming a charitable deduction declined from 17 percent in 2017 to likely less than 6 percent in 2018.  It also appears that the tax law may have had a negative impact on charitable giving.  Giving USA reported an overall decrease in giving by 1.7 percent from 2017 to 2018.  According to Charity Navigator, “While there are many variables at play, many experts attribute this decrease to the tax reform disincentivizing itemized donations.  This translates to the nonprofit organizations receiving billions of dollars less year over year.”  To read Charity Navigator’s analysis, click here. 

Chick-Fil-A’s Shift.  Chick-Fil-A’s shift in giving strategy continues to generate conversation.  J.P. Duffy wrote a powerful piece for The Christian Post expressing his disappointment in the shift.  Duffy has a unique perspective.  His first job, while still in high school, was with Chick-Fil-A.  His current job is at the Family Research Council, where a gunman attacked in 2012.  Duffy write, “I saw our building manager, Leo Johnson, covered in blood as he was rushed into an ambulance. Despite being seriously wounded, Leo heroically tackled the gunman, saving many lives.”  The shooter in that incident told the FBI “he had picked the Family Research Council as a target from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website. He was angered by the Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day held recently, in which huge crowds lined up at Chick-fil-A’s restaurants to show support for its president, Dan Cathy, who had expressed support for marriage defined as between a man and woman.”  Chick-Fil-A’s charitable foundation recently gave money to the SPLC.  That gift has become a metaphor for the shift in Chick-Fil-A’s philosophy. 

Jewish Donor, Christian Mission.  In a publication called “New York Jewish Life,” Rabbi Levi Welton asks an interesting question: “Why would a prominent Jewish philanthropist give one million dollars to a Christian missionary organization?”  The answer to that question is even more interesting.  It turns out Jewish millionaire and philanthropist Mark Gerson and his wife, Erica have partnered with the Christian Broadcasting Network on a $2,000,000 fundraising drive to raise money for eight teaching hospitals in Africa.”  It turns out a combination of personal relationships and the important work being done in Africa tipped the scale for the Gersons.  To read the full story, click here. 

Toy Story.  Christmas is about toys, and giving.  But it is about much more than that, of course.  That’s why a story I saw on the Generous Giving website caught my eye.  Gary and Cath Grant started their London-based toy store chain to make money.  But just as Christ entered our world at Christmas, so Christ entered the hearts and the world of the Grants when they were in their 30s.  That encounter with Jesus produced some radical changes in their approach to business, and to their giving strategy.  Their story is fascinating, inspiring – and challenging. You can find it here. 

A Sob Story.  A New Jersey man was sentenced to five years in prison for defrauding donors of more than $400,000.  Mark D’Amico and his girlfriend Kate McClure raised the money by making up a story about a homeless veteran helping a stranded woman.  They shared the bogus story on social media and GoFundMe in 2017.  When the vet, Johnny Bobbitt, didn’t get the money, he filed a lawsuit, saying D’Amico and McClure used the money to fund an extravagant lifestyle. D’Amico was sentenced to a five-year prison sentence.  McClure and Bobbitt have already pleaded guilty to lesser charges.  All three defendants must pay reinstitution under plea agreements. GoFundMe said it has refunded the money to donors. 

MinistryWatch Database Updates.  The following ministries have had their profiles and ratings updated this week in our database: Antioch Network, Inc. (4 stars), Berean Bible Society (2 stars), Breath of Life (5 stars), Christian Renewal Ministries (3 stars), Christian Working Woman (5 stars).


Warren Cole Smith

Warren previously served as Vice President of WORLD News Group, publisher of WORLD Magazine, and Vice President of The Colson Center for Christian Worldview. He has more than 30 years of experience as a writer, editor, marketing professional, and entrepreneur. Before launching a career in Christian journalism 25 years ago, Smith spent more than seven years as the Marketing Director at PricewaterhouseCoopers.