Frequently Asked Questions on Giving USA

FAQ Categories

Common Questions about Giving USA estimates and data.

    1. What is excluded from Giving USA estimates? Giving USA researchers develop estimates for philanthropic giving to charitable organizations located in the United States only. Giving USA does not estimate all forms of revenue to nonprofit organizations. Among the types of revenue not included in Giving USA are allocations to nonprofits from other charitable organizations, such as United Ways or communal funds; fees for services; payments that are not tax deductible as gifts; gross proceeds from special events; government  grants; membership dues; and contributions from crowdfunding campaigns beyond what is reported on  IRS Forms 990 and 990-EZ of 501(c)(3) organizations on the recipient side.
    2. Why can’t all giving be allocated to a recipient? Each year, a portion of total charitable receipts reported by Giving USA is labeled as “unallocated,” meaning that Giving USA cannot attribute all giving to a particular subsector. In 2017, unallocated giving amounted to -$2.24 billion, comprising -0.5 percent of total giving. Below are reasons why unallocated giving occurs:
      • All Giving USA figures are estimates. Giving USA estimates giving for years when final tax, economic, or demographic data are not yet available.
      • Estimates done in different ways should not match. It is not expected that the estimate for giving by source will exactly match the estimate for giving to recipients. Government agencies, such as those that release GDP figures, also acknowledge differences between estimates developed using one method and those developed using a different method.
      • Giving USA does not track charitable gifts received by government agencies, such as school districts (with one exception noted in the following bullet point); parks and recreation departments; civic improvement programs; state institutions of higher education; and public libraries. There is no single national list of public organizations that receive gifts. They cannot be identified and surveyed.
      • Donations to school districts, especially by foundations, have grown significantly in recent years. Giving USA sometimes includes large publicly reported gifts ($1 million or more) to public schools to supplement the estimate for giving to education and to balance gifts made on the source’s side of the estimates. Other donations to public schools, such as school fundraisers, are not included.
      • Foundation grants paid to organizations in other countries that are not registered as charities in the United States appear on the sources side of the estimates but are not tracked by type of recipient. In 2010, grantmaking to organizations located overseas comprised 36 percent of all international grantmaking (in terms of dollars), according to the Foundation Center.
      • A gift made during the calendar year may not appear in a fiscal year by a charity filing IRS Form 990 or Form 990-EZ. Giving USA uses the data charities report as the basis for the estimates. Therefore, if a charity reports on a fiscal year rather than a calendar year, total annual charitable contributions for these organizations will not correspond with donors’ receipts, which are reported to the IRS on a calendar-year basis.
      • Some donors make arrangements for significant deferred charitable gifts without telling the nonprofit. For instance, a donor can create a trust through a financial institution and take the allowed deduction, subject to IRS rules for valuing such gifts. Unless the donor informs the nonprofit organization that will ultimately receive some of the trust’s proceeds, the nonprofit is unaware of the gift and does not report it as revenue.
      • A donor might claim a different amount for a deduction than the recipient charity records as a receipt. This discrepancy can occur for an in-kind gift in which the donor claims fair market value and the charity reports as charitable revenue the amount it received from the sale of the item (or some other value based on a different scale than the one the donor used).
    3. Why does Giving USA make revisions? Giving USA’s results are a series of estimates that primarily rely on econometric methodologies and are not a tabulation of actual charitable receipts from the prior year. The estimates are revised as additional information, such as final charitable receipts, becomes available. Government agencies, such as the IRS, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and many others, routinely issue preliminary estimates that are revised as more data are obtained and analyzed. Giving USA uses this updated information in the models for estimating both sources and uses of giving each year.
    4. Does Giving USA report on charitable giving outside of the United States? No. Giving USA only reports on charitable giving within the United States.
    5. Does Giving USA provide data on charitable giving on a state, city or regional level? No. Giving USA reports on charitable giving data in the United States on a national level only.

  1. Does Giving USA provide cross-analysis of giving by source and use (such as the amount given to health by individuals)?  No. Giving USA only reports on the total charitable amounts given by each of the four main giving sources (see Sources of Contributions chapters) and received by the nine major subsectors (see Uses and Contributions chapters).
  2. Does Giving USA provide contextual analysis of giving trends? Yes, the Giving USA Annual Report provides in-depth analysis of giving trends like donor behavior, fundraising trends, strategies for successful campaigns and economic factors.


Orders & Products

  1. I have an issue with my order. Who should I contact? Contact Giving USA at or 312.981.6794 and we will be happy to assist you with your order questions.
  2. Can I share my purchased Giving USA downloaded products with others? No. Sharing of Giving USA products is strictly prohibited. Please see our Terms of Service.
  3. What is the Return Policy of Giving USA products? Because our products are in electronic format, we have a No Return Policy. This is with the exception of errors caused by our system. Please contact with specific questions about our return policy, for product information, or for more information about placing orders.
  4. What is the difference between The Numbers Overview (PPT) and the Comprehensive Presentation PowerPoint? The Numbers Overview (PPT) is a short slide deck (approx. 13 slides) that provides just the top-level findings in charts and talking points for that year’s Annual Report. It is included in the purchase of the Digital, Print, or Special Comprehensive packages. The Comprehensive Presentation PowerPoint (known as just PowerPoint before 2020) provides over 40 slides of talking points, research notes and visuals to equip you fully for presenting a complete picture of the report’s findings and analysis.
  5. Why have I not yet received all of my Giving USA 2020 purchased products? Please allow 2-4 weeks for delivery of your digital edition of the full Giving USA 2020 Annual Report after release day on June 16, 2020. Due to pandemic-related delays at our printer, printed copies of the Giving USA 2020 Annual Report are estimated to arrive 5-10 weeks from release date of June 16. For orders placed later in the year, digital products should be available immediately. Printed products may remain subject to printing delays caused by the pandemic. As of June 2020, all printed products excluding the Giving USA 2020 Annual Report have a projected delivery time of 4-6 weeks. If you have questions about your order, please contact Giving USA at
  6. Does Giving USA ship internationally? Giving USA does not currently ship internationally (anywhere outside of the US). All Giving USA products are available as digital downloads. For international orders, Giving USA recommends digital products only.