Giving USA 2017: Total Charitable Donations Rise to New High of $390.05 Billion

OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE

Giving by individuals grows nearly 4 percent, driving the rise in total giving; contributions to all nine major philanthropy subsectors increase—the sixth time in the last four decades.

Giving USA 2017: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2016

American individuals, estates, foundations and corporations contributed an estimated $390.05 billion to U.S. charities in 2016, according to Giving USA 2017: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2016, released today.

Total giving rose 2.7 percent in current dollars (1.4 percent adjusted for inflation) from the revised estimate of $379.89 billion for total giving in 2015. (Please see below for a more detailed breakdown of the numbers for each philanthropic source and sector.)

Giving USA, the longest-running and most comprehensive report of its kind in America, is published by Giving USA Foundation, a public service initiative of The Giving Institute. It is researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

Charitable giving from individuals, foundations and corporations all increased in 2016, while gifts by estates decreased sharply.

Giving to all nine major categories of recipient organizations grew, making 2016 just the sixth time in the past 40 years that this has occurred. The nine categories are religion; education; human services; giving to foundations; health; public-society benefit; arts, culture and humanities; international affairs; and environment and animals.

“This report tells us that Americans remained generous in 2016, despite it being a year punctuated by economic and political uncertainty,” said Aggie Sweeney, CFRE, chair of Giving USA Foundation and senior counsel at Campbell & Company. “We saw growth in every major sector, indicating the resilience of philanthropy and diverse motivations of donors.”

The rise in total giving was spurred largely by giving from individuals, which increased nearly 4 percent in 2016.

“Individual giving continued its remarkable role in American philanthropy in a year that included a turbulent election season that reflected a globally resurgent populism,” said Amir Pasic, Ph.D., the Eugene R. Tempel Dean of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. “In this context, the absence of a dramatic change in giving is perhaps remarkable, but it also demonstrates the need for us to better understand the multitude of individual and collective decisions that comprise our record of national giving.”

While the political climate may play a role in some donors’ decisions to give to charity, research conducted by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and other philanthropy researchers has long demonstrated that aggregate giving trends are influenced by large-scale economic factors. These factors ultimately affect the economic and financial circumstances of all types of donors and, therefore, their ability to give.

As an example of the link between the economy and charitable giving trends, giving by individuals has historically correlated with changes in such national-level economic indicators as personal consumption, disposable personal income and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. All of these factors are associated with households’ permanent and long-term financial stability.

In 2016, helping to increase giving by individuals and households, both personal consumption and disposable personal income grew by nearly 4 percent over 2015. The S&P 500 finished the year up 9.5 percent after uneven performance for much of 2016 and a mixed economic picture in 2015.

“When compared with giving by individuals, corporate giving saw slightly more modest growth in 2016, at 3.5 percent,” said Jeffrey Byrne, Chair of The Giving Institute, and president and CEO of Jeffrey D. Byrne + Associates. “Corporate giving is significantly influenced by annual changes in pre-tax profits and Gross Domestic Product, which was up 3.0 percent, as compared with 3.7 percent in 2015 and 4.2 percent in 2014. Similarly, corporate pre-tax profits, which can be quite variable from year to year, grew 2.7 percent in 2016.”

Highlights about Giving by Source

  • Giving by individuals grew at a higher rate than the other sources of giving, outpacing giving by foundations and by corporations, and offsetting the sharp decline in bequests.
  • Giving by foundations rose more slowly in 2016 compared to the stronger increases seen in recent years, according to data provided by Foundation Center.
  • Corporate giving increased modestly in 2016, in the wake of slower GDP growth and little movement in the share of pre-tax profits directed to giving.
  • Giving by bequest fell sharply, following two years of strong growth. Gifts in the form of bequests frequently fluctuate from year to year and are less influenced by economic factors.

“In 2016, we saw something of a democratization of philanthropy,” said Patrick M. Rooney, Ph.D., associate dean for academic affairs and research at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. “The strong growth in individual giving may be less attributable to the largest of the large gifts, which were not as robust as we have seen in some prior years, suggesting that more of that growth in 2016 may have come from giving by donors among the general population compared to recent years.”

The Numbers for 2016 Charitable Giving by Source:

  • Giving by individuals totaled an estimated $281.86 billion, rising 3.9 percent (2.6 percent adjusted for inflation) in 2016.
  • Giving by foundations increased 3.5 percent (2.2 percent adjusted for inflation) to an estimated $59.28 billion in 2016. Data on foundation giving are provided by Foundation Center.
  • Giving by bequest totaled an estimated $30.36 billion in 2016, declining 9.0 percent (10.1 percent adjusted for inflation) from 2015.
  • Giving by corporations is estimated to have increased by 3.5 percent (2.3 percent adjusted for inflation) in 2016, totaling $18.55 billion.

New to this year’s edition of Giving USA is a special section on donor-advised funds, which provides analysis of major trends in both giving to and from these charitable vehicles.

Highlights about 2016 Gifts to Charitable Organizations

For the charitable organizations receiving contributions, 2016 was a year of growth across the board.

  • Giving to all nine major types of charitable organizations increased in 2016.
  • Education giving saw relatively slower growth (3.6 percent) compared to the strong growth rates experienced in most post-recession years. In each of the years 2014 and 2015 education giving grew by more than 8 percent.
  • Giving to international affairs, human services and public-society benefit organizations all grew. This growth is in spite of relatively few widely publicized natural disasters, which often increase contributions to these types of organizations.
  • Environment and animals charities; arts, culture and humanities organizations; international affairs nonprofits; and health causes experienced the largest jumps in contributions.

“In 2016, we saw a number of changes from patterns we have seen in recent years,” said Una Osili, Ph.D., director of research at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. “While giving to arts, health and the environment experienced significant growth, giving to education saw relatively slower growth. In most years, giving to education, arts and culture and health organizations often experience similar changes in growth rates, but in 2016 arts and health giving are both notably higher than giving to education. Giving for international affairs also saw growth even though there were lower levels of giving for disaster relief.”

The Numbers for 2016 Charitable Giving to Recipients:

  • Giving to religion increased 3.0 percent (1.8 percent adjusted for inflation), with an estimated $122.94 billion in contributions.
  • Giving to education is estimated to have increased 3.6 percent (2.3 percent adjusted for inflation) to $59.77 billion.
  • Giving to human services increased by an estimated 4.0 percent (2.7 percent adjusted for inflation), totaling $46.80 billion.
  • Giving to foundations is estimated to have increased by 3.1 percent (1.8 percent adjusted for inflation), rising to $40.56 billion.
  • Giving to health organizations is estimated to have increased by 5.7 percent (4.4 percent adjusted for inflation), to $33.14 billion.
  • Giving to public-society benefit organizations increased by an estimated 3.7 percent (2.5 percent adjusted for inflation) to $29.89 billion.
  • Giving to arts, culture, and humanities is estimated to have increased 6.4 percent (5.1 percent adjusted for inflation) to $18.21 billion.
  • Giving to international affairs is estimated to be $22.03 billion in 2016, an increase of 5.8 percent (4.6 percent adjusted for inflation).
  • Giving to environment and animal organizations is estimated to have increased 7.2 percent (5.8 percent adjusted for inflation) to $11.05 billion.

In addition, giving to individuals is estimated to have declined 2.5 percent (3.7 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars) to $7.12 billion. The bulk of these donations are in-kind gifts of medications to patients in need, made through the Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs) of pharmaceutical companies’ operating foundations.

Unallocated giving was negative $1.46 billion in 2016. This amount can be considered as the difference between giving by source and by use in any particular year. This amount includes the difference between itemized deductions by individuals (and households) carried over from previous years. The tax year in which a gift is claimed by the donor (carried over) and the year when the recipient organization reports it as revenue (the year in which it is received) may be different.

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NOTES TO EDITORS
Members of the media can request 40-year data tables that show sources of contributions by year in current and inflation-adjusted dollars, and allocation of gifts by type of recipient category, also in current and inflation-adjusted dollars. Data also are available showing total giving as a percentage of GDP, individual giving as a percentage of disposable income and corporate giving as a percentage of corporate pre-tax profits.

The requested citation for Giving USA is Giving USA 2017: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2016, a publication of Giving USA Foundation, 2017, researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Available online at www.givingusa.org.

About Giving USA Foundation
Advancing the research, education and public understanding of philanthropy is the mission of Giving USA Foundation, founded in 1985 by The Giving Institute. Headquartered in Chicago, the Foundation publishes data and trends about charitable giving through its seminal publication, Giving USA, and quarterly reports on topics related to philanthropy. Published since 1956, Giving USA is the longest running, most comprehensive report on philanthropy in America. Read more about Giving USA Foundation’s history, as well as the history of Giving USA and philanthropy in the U.S. in the Giving USA 2015 Spotlight: Celebrating Service to Philanthropy (available as a free download).

About Giving USA
For over 60 years, Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy in America, has provided comprehensive charitable giving data that are relied on by donors, fundraisers and nonprofit leaders. The research in this annual report estimates all giving to charitable organizations across the United States. Giving USA is a public outreach initiative of Giving USA Foundation and is researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Giving USA Foundation, established in 1985 by The Giving Institute, endeavors to advance philanthropy through research and education. Explore Giving USA products and resources, including free highlights of each annual report, at our online store.

About The Giving Institute
The Giving Institute, the parent organization of Giving USA Foundation, consists of member organizations that have embraced and embodied the core values of ethics, excellence and leadership in advancing philanthropy. Serving clients of every size and purpose, from local institutions to international organizations, The Giving Institute member organizations embrace the highest ethical standards and maintain a strict code of fair practices. For information on selecting fundraising counsel, visit www.givinginstitute.org.

How to Obtain Giving USA 2017
Giving USA 2017: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2016 is available for download starting June 13 at www.givingusa.org. A complimentary executive summary, Highlights, also will be available on that date.

Customers can select from a number of Giving USA 2017 products, including the full report, available in both digital and paperback formats; a PowerPoint slide deck; data tables; and the free Highlights executive summary.

Giving USA Foundation periodically publishes in-depth reports (Special Reports) on different aspects of charitable giving and fundraising trends. Visit www.givingusa.org for available topics; prices vary.

About the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy
The Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy is dedicated to improving philanthropy to improve the world by training and empowering students and professionals to be innovators and leaders who create positive and lasting change. The school offers a comprehensive approach to philanthropy through its academic, research, and international programs and through The Fund Raising School, Lake Institute on Faith & Giving and the Women’s Philanthropy Institute. For more information, visit philanthropy.iupui.edu.

Giving USA Methodology
Giving USA estimates primarily rely on econometric methods developed by leading researchers in philanthropy and the nonprofit sector and are reviewed and approved by members of the Giving USA Advisory Council on Methodology (ACM). Members of the ACM include research directors from national nonprofit organizations, as well as scholars from such disciplines as economics and public affairs, all of whom are involved in studying philanthropy and the nonprofit sector.

The Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy prepares all of the estimates in Giving USA for Giving USA Foundation. Giving USA develops estimates for giving by each type of donor (sources) and for recipient organizations categorized by subsectors (uses). Most of Giving USA’s annual estimates are based on econometric analyses and tabulations of tax data, economic indicators and demographics. Data for giving by foundations come from Foundation Center.

Following the same approach used by leading public and private institutions that develop economic statistics, Giving USA researchers update data found within Giving USA each year. This is because current Giving USA estimates are developed before final tax data, some economic indicators and some demographic data are available. The estimates are revised and updated as final versions of these data become available. Final estimates are usually developed two or three years after their initial release.

For more specific details on Giving USA’s methodology, please refer to the “Brief summary of methods” section within Giving USA 2017 or contact the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at adrldavi@iupui.edu or 317-278-8972.


Philanthropy May be Imperative for the Future of Aging Services

A Giving USA report looks at the importance of philanthropy in the aging services sector

Aging Services Special Report Giving USABy 2060, it is estimated that the population of Americans over 65 will climb to 98.2 million – double the estimated population in 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But a report from Giving USA Foundation questions how aging services organizations (ASO’s) will be able to fiscally bear that growth. A Giving USA Special Report, Giving and the Golden Years: The Role of Private Giving in Aging Services Organizations, available in print or digital download, provides a first-of-its-kind benchmark of the national aging services landscape. This includes information on state-by-state coverage and how these critical organizations are supported financially. The Giving USA Foundation hopes the report will allow organizations focused on serving aging populations to look at their current financial support and long-term trends to make decisions on how to ensure future financial stability.

Aging services organizations — nonprofits dedicated to serving aging populations — range from food programs and housing to adult day care, in-home services and nursing facilities. The report found that only six percent of nonprofit organizations in the country that file tax returns with the IRS are focused on providing services to aging populations. That is especially surprising, given 24.5 percent of American households are headed by someone 65 or older.

“This is a surprisingly small number of organizations meant to serve a large and still growing population of Americans,” said Aggie Sweeney, CFRE, Giving USA Foundation Board Chair. “We’re hoping the findings of this report will motivate the public to add aging services organizations to their annual giving portfolios.”

Insights on ASO Revenue

Within this small aging services sector, the report revealed ASO’s vary widely on revenue size. Over half of all aging service organizations operate with an annual revenue at or under $500,000. The exception is nursing facilities and home health services, of which nearly 30 percent operate with annual revenue of $10 million or more. These differences in business models and mission also create two extremes in their reliance on charitable giving:

  • Organizations like food programs receive more than 82 percent of revenue through grants and contributions, including in-kind food donations.
  • Nursing facilities and home health services receive less than five percent of total revenue through grants and contributions.

“Both of these models present risks to the organization by relying heavily on a single type of income,” said Nathan Dietz, report co-author and Senior Research Associate with the Urban Institute’s Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy. “Developing diversified sources of revenue is one way to invest in the future.”

The report showed that many ASO’s have great opportunity to utilize charitable giving as a way to grow or diversify revenue. The report cautions, however, that investing in philanthropy takes time.

“Fundraising is not a simple or short-term solution,” said Laura MacDonald, CFRE, report co-author and Giving USA Foundation board member. “Long-term investments must be made by an organization’s leadership, management and the community at large. With patience and diligence, a sound fundraising program should eventually return $3 to $5 for every $1 invested.”

Alarmingly, the report also found that only 10 percent of ASO’s have an endowment fund of any kind. These funds are an investment commonly used by nonprofits, such as universities and hospitals, to ensure funding for future programs, operations, and services. They are most often established by generous donors who recognize the imperative to sustain the nonprofit organization’s essential mission.

Coverage State-By-State

The report revealed a clear disparity in ASO coverage when looking state-by-state. States commonly thought of as “retirement states” like Florida, Arizona, Texas and the Carolinas scored in the bottom 25 percent in the number of ASO’s per 1,000 residents 65 and older. By contrast, Minnesota, Nebraska and the Dakotas scored in the top 25 percent.

Philanthropy in Older Generations

Another irony that was brought to light in the report is the prevalence of philanthropy in older generations. Americans born before 1964 make up the most generous generation in the country, accounting for nearly 70 percent of all charitable giving in the U.S. It’s likely that this generation will be the biggest philanthropic supporter of aging services they may come to rely on.
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The Giving USA Special Report, Giving and the Golden Years: The Role of Private Giving in Aging Services Organizations, can be purchased as a paperback book for just $29.95 or as a downloadable PDF for just $24.95 at www.GivingUSA.org.

About Giving USA Foundation
Advancing the research, education, and public understanding of philanthropy is the mission of the Giving USA Foundation, founded in 1985 by The Giving Institute. Headquartered in Chicago, the Foundation publishes data and trends about charitable giving through its seminal publication, Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy, and quarterly special reports on topics related to the field of philanthropy.


How Well Do Human Services Organizations Do at Fundraising, Compared to Other Charities?

HumanServicesSpotlightHuman Services organizations (HSOs)—food banks, homeless shelters, youth services, sports organizations, family and legal services—are the organizations that many people think of when they think about the nonprofit sector. In 2014, HSOs constituted the largest percentage of all public charities (35.5 percent), but they received 11.7 percent of all charitable contributions.

While some well-known HSOs are large and well-funded, the majority fly below the radar, delivering needed services in individual communities. However, like many other nonprofits, most HSOs have no idea how to find reliable data on fundraising that they can use to benchmark their performance. In other subsectors, such as healthcare and education, data and research on giving are relatively easy to find, but for HSOs there is no obvious analogue: most have little sense of how other organizations attract donations.

Until now, the nonprofit sector has lacked a national dataset that could be used to create fundraising benchmarks or to compare organizations across or within subsectors. In 2012, the Association of Fundraising Professionals, the Urban Institute’s Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy, and DonorPerfect launched the Growth in Giving (GIG) Initiative and began to form data-sharing partnerships with fundraising software firms such as Bloomerang, Neon, Abila, and others. Today, the GIG Initiative has capitalized on the vast amount of data collected by software firms on an ongoing basis to create a database that will help advance research, education, and public understanding of philanthropy.

The GIG Initiative’s unique data collection process allows donor software firms to contribute data on individual gift transactions without jeopardizing the confidentiality of any contributors or organizations. To date, software vendors have contributed data – including, when available, historical data from the past ten years – from over 6,000 client organizations. Dozens of key metrics of fundraising performance can be generated from just four gift-transaction data fields – Organization ID (anonymized), Donor ID (also anonymized), Date of Receipt and Amount of Gift – per transaction. The dataset also contains descriptive information about the organization’s subsector and location for most of the organizations in the database.

The GIG database currently contains more than 109 million gift transactions, including over 22 million individual donations to HSOs. Now, the Initiative, in partnership with Giving USA Foundation, has used data from the GIG database to produce the Giving USA Philanthropy Spotlight, “Benchmarking Giving to Human Services,” which reports on fundraising within HSOs. What we learn from the first analyses of the GIG data is that HSO’s have, since 2009, nearly caught up with other types of nonprofits in fundraising productivity. Giving increased at a slightly faster rate than contributions to non-HSOs (58.1 percent vs. 48.7 percent) in the period 2009-2015, which encompasses the recovery from the Great Recession. More strikingly, the average amount contributed per donor grew 70.7 percent for HSOs compared to 18.9 percent for non-HSO nonprofits over the same timeframe.

Spotlight July 2016.inddThe Giving USA Spotlight report also features a number of statistics widely used by professional fundraisers to compare HSOs and other nonprofits. These statistics include:

  • Contributions per donor
  • Donors per organization
  • Retention of current donors
  • Acquisition of new donors
  • Timing of contributions

The Giving USA Philanthropy Spotlight tells the story of how human services organizations have nearly caught up with other types of nonprofits in fundraising productivity, and shows how HSOs can use their own data to learn how to thrive and how to grow. The report also gives us a first look at the possibilities for actionable research that the GIG database provides.

The Giving USA Philanthropy Spotlight, “Benchmarking Giving to Human Services” is now available to download for $19.95 at www.givingusa.org.

About the authors: This post was written by the Spotlight co-authors: Nathan Dietz, Senior Research Associate, Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute, and Kimberly Hawkins, Giving USA Foundation and Retired Senior Consultant and Principal, Marts & Lundy.

Read official press release.


Giving USA: 2015 Was America’s Most-Generous Year Ever

Charitable donations hit record for second year in a row, at estimated $373.25 billion.

Donations from America’s individuals, estates, foundations and corporations reached an estimated $373.25 billion in 2015, setting a record for the second year in a row, reports Giving USA 2016: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2015, released today.

Giving USA 2016 book

That new peak in contributions is record-setting whether measured in current or inflation-adjusted dollars. In 2015, total giving grew 4.1 percent in current dollars (4.0 percent when adjusted for inflation) over 2014. The revised inflation-adjusted estimate for total giving in 2014 was $359.04 billion, with current-dollar growth of 7.8 percent, and an inflation-adjusted increase of 6.1 percent.

But that’s not the only big news about charitable giving in this year’s report.

“If you look at total giving by two-year time spans, the combined growth for 2014 and 2015 hit double digits, reaching 10.1 percent when calculated using inflation-adjusted dollars,” said Giving USA Foundation Chair W. Keith Curtis, president of nonprofit consulting firm The Curtis Group, Virginia Beach, Virginia. “But these findings embody more than numbers—they also are a symbol of the American spirit. It’s heartening that people really do want to make a difference, and they’re supporting the causes that matter to them. Americans are embracing philanthropy at a higher level than ever before.”

Charitable contributions from all four sources went up in 2015, with those from individuals once again leading the way in terms of total dollar amount, at $264.58 billion. This follows the historical pattern seen over more than six decades.

Giving USA, the longest-running and most comprehensive report of its kind in America, is published by Giving USA Foundation, a public-service initiative of The Giving Institute. It is researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

Diving even Deeper into Charitable Gifts, both Large and Small
“The last two years represent the highest and second-highest totals for giving—and the third and fourth largest percentage increases in giving—in the past 10 years, adjusted for inflation,” said Amir Pasic, Ph.D., the Eugene R. Tempel Dean of the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

Pasic added that “the share of total giving going to each type of recipient was virtually the same in 2015 as it was in 2014. During and after the recession, some donors redirected donations to assist with pressing needs. The fact that the portion of the giving “pie” destined for the various subsectors has been largely consistent for the past two years suggests that giving among the broad destination categories may be stabilizing.”

Very large charitable donations—categorized here as gifts of $100 million or more—have garnered an increasing amount of attention over the past 10 to 15 years. In 2015, the very large contributions that were publicly announced totaled at least $3.3 billion.

“Each year, gifts of $100 million or more play a significant role for some individual donors and many different types of charities, and they do affect the numbers. However, Americans’ collective generosity would still be enormous even without those jaw-dropping gifts,” said Patrick M. Rooney, Ph.D., associate dean for academic affairs and research at the school. “Philanthropy is quite democratic and always has been—more people give than vote in the U.S.—and $20, $10 and $1 gifts do make a cumulative difference.”

Not only did individuals give the most; by upping their gifts 3.8 percent when measured in current dollars (and 3.7 percent when inflation-adjusted), in 2015 they were responsible for two-thirds of the year’s overall increase in total giving.

In 2015, the largest year-over-year percentage increase in contributions from sources however, came via grants made by the country’s independent, community and operating foundations, according to data provided by the Foundation Center. It went up 6.5 percent in current dollars, and 6.3 percent when adjusted for inflation. Over the past several years, foundations have seen strong asset growth, helping drive their ability to increase donations made in the form of grants

The Numbers for 2015 Charitable Giving by Source:

  • Individual giving, $264.58 billion, increased 3.8 percent in current dollars (and 3.7 percent when inflation-adjusted) over 2014.
  • Foundation giving, $58.46 billion, was 6.5 percent higher than 2014 (6.3 percent when inflation-adjusted).
  • Charitable bequests, $31.76 billion, increased 2.1 percent (1.9 percent when inflation-adjusted) over 2014.
  • Corporate giving, $18.45 billion, increased 3.9 percent (3.8 percent when inflation-adjusted) over 2014 giving.


Charitable Giving Levels Reflect Economic Conditions

Sustained growth in total giving for 2014 and 2015 could be due, in part, to at least two factors: The country’s overall economic environment continuing its path to recovery after recessionary times, and household finances seeming to stabilize.

Healthy growth among several key economic factors, including: personal consumption; personal income; disposable personal income; GDP; and, corporate pre-tax profits, influenced all four sources of giving when it came to 2015 charitable donations, and from individuals in particular.

While the S&P 500 declined steadily throughout 2015, ending essentially flat (at -0.7 percent), its double-digit growth in each of the two years prior, and attendant rise in many portfolio values, helped buoy 2015 giving.

One gauge of philanthropy’s impact on American society is the fact that charitable giving is at a level high enough for it to be part and parcel of GDP. In fact, charitable donations have hovered around 2 percent of GDP for many years. In 2015, the relevant figure was 2.1 percent, the same as in 2014 and slightly above the 40-year average of 1.9 percent.

Upon closer examination of the relationship between giving and GDP, which totaled $17.95 trillion at year’s end, Jeffrey D. Byrne, chair of The Giving Institute and president and CEO of Jeffrey D. Byrne + Associates in Kansas City, Missouri, sees something potentially even more interesting: “Between 2010 and 2015, growth in charitable donations actually outperformed growth in GDP,” he said, adding, “consider this: inflation-adjusted total giving grew at an annualized average rate of 3.6 percent during that time frame; meanwhile, GDP growth grew at an average rate of 2 percent.

“Isn’t that a fascinating statistic,” he asked, “that growth in total giving has been outpacing growth in our nation’s GDP? I believe that is information Americans can wrap their heads around and celebrate. I hope everyone who either works within philanthropy, donates to philanthropic causes, or benefits from the good work such organizations do, will participate in helping this level of growth continue and even increase.”


Highlights about 2015 Gifts to Charitable Organizations

When looking at the other side of giving—contributions to nine major types of charitable organizations—2015 was noteworthy for several reasons:

  • Giving to educational institutions remained strong; growth exceeded 5 percent in 2015, as it also did in four of the five years between 2010 and 2014.
  • The giving to religion slice of Giving USA’s recipient pie chart, which measures the percentage of donations made to nine charitable subsectors, has steadily shrunk for decades. Paradoxically, it has never tumbled from its first-place standing in terms of total donations received. In 2015, the category held firm at 32 percent of the total received, the same figure estimated for 2014.
  • Many valuable gifts of artwork, books and manuscripts, along with other types of “appreciated assets,” were donated to charitable organizations in 2015. Since art markets both domestic and global were at or near peak highs in 2014 and 2015, that could explain why.
  • Giving to foundations was the only category in 2015 where donations decreased—by 3.8 percent in current dollars. Since foundations tend to receive very large gifts, it is possible their magnitude was not as great in 2015 compared to 2014, especially since those contributions influence year-over-year changes in giving.
  • Giving to international affairs increased 17.5 percent in 2015 after two straight years of decline. That large increase may be attributable to growth in the number of active international charitable organizations; use of more strategic fundraising methods; and increased focus on international issues among foundations. Additionally, as the slowest-growing type of charitable organization (in terms of gifts received) for six years, giving to this category may have taken longer to recover from the recession than others.


The Numbers for 2015 Charitable Giving to Recipients

As noted above, all but one of nine categories that Giving USA’s research covers saw increased giving in 2015; donations to foundations was the exception.

  • Religion—at $119.30 billion, 2015 giving increased 2.7 percent in current dollars, and 2.6 percent when adjusted for inflation.
  • Education—giving increased to $57.48 billion, 8.9 percent more in current dollars than the 2014 total. The inflation-adjusted increase was 8.8 percent.
  • Human Services—its $45.21 billion total was 4.2 percent higher, in current dollars, than in 2014. The inflation-adjusted increase was 4.1 percent.
  • To Foundations—at an estimated $42.26 billion in 2015, giving declined 3.8 percent in current dollars and decreased 4.0 percent when adjusted for inflation.
  • Health—the $29.81 billion estimated for 2015 giving to this category was 1.3 percent higher, in current dollars, than the 2014 estimate. When adjusted for inflation, the increase was 1.2 percent.
  • Public-Society Benefit—the $26.95 billion estimate for 2015 increased 6.0 percent in current dollars over 2014. When adjusted for inflation, the increase was 5.9 percent.
  • Arts/Culture/Humanities—at an estimated $17.07 billion, growth in current dollars was 7.0 percent in 2015. When adjusted for inflation, the increase was 6.8 percent.
  • International Affairs—the $15.75 billion estimate for 2015 increased 17.5 percent, in current dollars, from 2014. The increase was 17.4 percent when adjusted for inflation.
  • Environment/Animals—the $10.68 billion estimate for 2015 was up 6.2 percent in current dollars, and 6.1 percent when adjusted for inflation, over 2014 giving.

In addition to the above, 2 percent of 2015’s total charitable giving, $6.56 billion, went to individuals. These contributions were largely in-kind donations of medicine contributed via pharmaceutical foundations’ patient assistance programs.

Adding further context to the giving by recipient data, “Five charitable subsectors saw large increases in 2015: giving to education; arts, culture and humanities; environment/animals; public-society benefit; and international affairs. Each of these subsectors grew by more than 5 percent,” said Una Osili, Ph.D., director of research at the school. “And two of those—education and the arts—traditionally include organizations and institutions that wealthy donors are most likely to support. In addition, the increase in education giving was fueled by a number of very large gifts to colleges and universities.”

 

NOTES TO EDITORS

Members of the media can request 40-year data tables that show sources of contributions by year in current and inflation-adjusted dollars and allocation of gifts by type of recipient category, also in current and inflation-adjusted dollars. Data also are available showing total giving as a percentage of GDP, individual giving as a percentage of disposable income and corporate giving as a percentage of corporate pre-tax profits.

The requested citation for Giving USA is Giving USA 2016: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2015, a publication of Giving USA Foundation, 2016, researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Available online at the Giving USA store.

About Giving USA Foundation
Advancing the research, education and public understanding of philanthropy is the mission of Giving USA Foundation, founded in 1985 by The Giving Institute. Headquartered in Chicago, the Foundation publishes data and trends about charitable giving through its seminal publication, Giving USA, and quarterly reports on topics related to philanthropy. Published since 1956, Giving USA is the longest running, most comprehensive report on philanthropy in America. Read more about Giving USA Foundation’s history, as well as the history of Giving USA and philanthropy in the U.S. in the Giving USA 2015 Spotlight: Celebrating Service to Philanthropy (available as a free download).

About Giving USA
For over 60 years, Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy in America, has provided comprehensive charitable giving data that are relied on by donors, fundraisers and nonprofit leaders. The research in this annual report estimates all giving to all charitable organizations across the United States. Giving USA is a public outreach initiative of Giving USA Foundation™ and is researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Giving USA Foundation, established in 1985 by The Giving Institute, endeavors to advance philanthropy through research and education. Explore Giving USA products and resources, including free highlights of each annual report, at our online store.

About The Giving Institute
The Giving Institute, the parent organization of Giving USA Foundation™, consists of member organizations that have embraced and embodied the core values of ethics, excellence and leadership in advancing philanthropy. Serving clients of every size and purpose, from local institutions to international organizations, The Giving Institute member organizations embrace the highest ethical standards and maintain a strict code of fair practices. For information on selecting fundraising counsel, visit www.givinginstitute.org.

How to Obtain Giving USA 2016
Giving USA 2016: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2015, will be available for download June 14, 2016, at our online store. A complimentary executive summary, Highlights, also will be available on that date.

Customers can select from a number of Giving USA 2016 products, including the full report, available in both digital and paperback formats; a PowerPoint slide deck; data tables; and the free Highlights executive summary.

Giving USA Foundation periodically publishes in-depth reports (Spotlights) on different aspects of charitable giving and fundraising trends. Visit www.givingusa.org for available topics; prices vary.

About the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy
The Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy is dedicated to improving philanthropy to improve the world by training and empowering students and professionals to be innovators and leaders who create positive and lasting change. The school offers a comprehensive approach to philanthropy through its academic, research and international programs and through The Fund Raising School, Lake Institute on Faith & Giving and the Women’s Philanthropy Institute. For more information, visit www.philanthropy.iupui.edu.

Giving USA Methodology
Giving USA estimates primarily rely on econometric methods developed by leading researchers in philanthropy and the nonprofit sector and are reviewed and approved by the members of the Giving USA Advisory Council on Methodology (ACM). Members of the ACM include research directors from national nonprofit organizations, as well as scholars from such disciplines as economics and public affairs, all of whom are involved in studying philanthropy and the nonprofit sector.

The Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy prepares all of the estimates in Giving USA for Giving USA Foundation. Giving USA develops estimates for giving by each type of donor (sources) and for recipient organizations categorized by subsectors (uses). Most of Giving USA’s annual estimates are based on econometric analyses and tabulations of tax data, economic indicators and demographics. Data for giving by foundations come from the Foundation Center.

Following the same approach by leading public and private institutions that develop economic statistics, Giving USA researchers update data found within Giving USA each year. This is because current Giving USA estimates are developed before final tax data, some economic indicators, and some demographic data are available. The estimates are revised and updated as final versions of these data become available. Final estimates are usually developed two to three years after their initial release.

For more specific details on Giving USA’s methodology, please refer to the “Brief summary of methods” section within Giving USA 2016 or contact the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at adrldavi@iupui.edu or 317-278-8972.

 

Media Contact:

FOR the FOUNDATION: Sharon Bond, 847/530-1549, sharon@gooddogpr.com

FOR the SCHOOL:  Adriene Davis Kalugyer, 317/278-8972, adrldavi@iupui.edu