We hope you had a holiday season full of family and friends! It’s too early to get statistics on total charitable giving in 2018, however, I still stand by my prediction from last January. Contrary to the predictions of others in the philanthropy world, I anticipate that compared to 2017, charitable giving was up in 2018. Although giving was down slightly in the first two quarters of 2018, strong contributions in the third quarter now have charitable giving up compared to the first three quarters of 2017. Here at your Community Foundation, we saw very strong contributions and had a record year with total contributions exceeding $7 million. There was a great deal of interest in the “charitable bunching” concept that I mentioned in earlier posts. Under the new tax laws with the higher standard deduction, more donors used a Donor Advised Fund and bunching as a tax wise charitable giving tool at year-end. In July, Giving USA will report on total charitable giving and I will report back with the official results on 2018. However, I think my faith in people and their motivations for giving will be proven correct and giving will be up despite the standard deduction doubling and many fewer people able to itemize their deductions. Stay tuned. Your generosity is a crucial force in our community and working together, we are making a huge impact. Here is what your support amounted to in 2018… More than $4.1 million in grants and scholarships from more than 700 different funds An additional 15 Heartland Legacy Society members, bringing the total membership to 145 Awarding more than $287,000 in scholarships to 218 local students Granting more than $347,000 to 60 nonprofits through our competitive grants program , thanks in part to additional funding from our donor advised fund holders and community partners Growing our Youth Advisory Council membership to more than 190 students at 13 local high schools, who with your help collected more than 40,000 food items for area food pantries at the Fill Those Trucks event Receiving the 2018 Regional Leadership Award from Mid-America Regional Council for our work with the Community for All Ages Coalition and engaging more than 70 members from all sectors of our community to develop new resources and explore strategies to meet the needs of our community We are so proud of what you’ve helped accomplish this year. Our community would be a very different place without your philanthropic support. As we prepare for 2019, I would also remind all the Baby Boomers in our area who are looking for volunteer opportunities in the new year to utilize our Boomers Get Connected resources. We continue our work with area nonprofits and governments looking for volunteers and help them connect with Baby Boomers in our communities to better utilize their time and talents. Volunteering more in 2019 would be a great New Year’s resolution and the resources on the Boomers Get Connected site are available for everyone regardless of age.