Special Report: Ooops! Giving USA Identifies Its Mistake

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The people who bring us Giving USA have announced that the latest edition of the report contains a clerical error.

In life, when one makes a mistake, it’s generally a good idea to admit it and, when possible, fix it. It’s impossible to be perfect. So, what separates the good guys from the bad guys is not who can achieve perfection. Instead, the good guys are defined by how effectively and honestly they deal with problems when they are identified.

I congratulate Giving USA for promptly correcting its error.

Here is the text of the email from Giving USA that explains the situation:


Dear Valued Giving USA Customer,

The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and Giving USA are committed to providing the most up-to-date data on charitable giving possible-and to doing so with transparency, accuracy, and accessibility.

It is for this reason that we are notifying you that the Center on Philanthropy has updated the Giving USA bequest and total giving data for the years 1998-2009 that were originally reported in Giving USA 2012, released in June of this year. The changes are necessary because an error in the bequest giving data for those years has come to our attention.

The Center’s due diligence efforts confirmed that a clerical error was made in the final statistical data file for bequests for the years 1998-2009. Total giving estimates for those years are affected because bequest giving is one of the elements that make up total giving. Please be assured this was strictly a clerical error and does not reflect any problems with the methodology used in creating estimates or with the data used in the estimation models.

These changes do not affect total giving or bequest giving amounts for 2011 or 2010 as reported in the June 2012 edition, nor do they impact previous messaging about giving during these years.

The updated data tables are already available to customers who purchased the pdf version of the data tables previously as well as those who have purchased the full report. The Center will revise the graphs and data tables (as applicable) within the full report, the executive summary, and the PowerPoint by August 31, 2012.

If you have questions about the updates that have been made to bequest and total giving data for 1999-2008, please contact us via the Giving USA reports website at http://www.givingUSAreports.org or call the Center on Philanthropy’s Giving USA team at 317-278-8973.


Melanie McKitrick

Managing Editor, Giving USA

The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University”


It’s good to know that the folks responsible for Giving USA are diligent, honest, and quick to address mistakes once identified. We can all remain confident in this quality resource.

That’s what Michael Rosen says… What do you say?

2 Comments to “Special Report: Ooops! Giving USA Identifies Its Mistake”

  1. Michael,

    I think we all make mistakes, and it is usually not the mistakes themselves that do us in, but it is when we try to cover them up that causes our downfall. I can think of two political examples right off the top of my head, and I haven’t had my full allotment of coffee yet. Nixon made the mistake of trying to find out what his competition was up to by sending operatives in the DNC headquarters at Watergate, and would not admit to his mistake. It eventually cost him much respect and his presidency. Clinton tried to cover up his philandering ways by lying under oath and to the people, and it came back to bite him in the backside. Had either of these leaders simply admitted their mistakes, they would have been forgiven and gone on with their presidencies, but each were marred by the cover ups.

    The same goes for nonprofit organizations. If and when mistakes are made, unless they are transparent and acknowledge them, it can be their downfall.

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