One of the positive attributes of who we are as Americans is our generosity. We believe in helping our fellow man. Giving is the backbone of our culture, manifesting itself in so many ways. We give our time, expertise, and skills. We share our resources and connections. We give money and other financial resources. For example, in 2015 charitable donations totaled an estimated $373.25 billion. That’s billion with a “b.”
Here’s what we learned from Giving USA 2016: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2015. 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.
“Americans are embracing philanthropy at a higher level than ever before” said Giving USA Foundation Chair W. Keith Curtis. In fact gifts from individuals in 2015 totaled $264.58 billion. That’s a little over 70% of all charitable giving. Now, some of us give very large charitable donations (gifts of $100 million or more). Last year the amount of these gifts that were publicly announced totaled at least $3.3 billion. But that’s just one percent of all gifts from individuals.
Other sources of philanthropy include foundations, who gave $58.46 billion; and corporations, who gave $18.45 billion. Another form of giving from individuals is charitable bequests, which totaled $31.76 billion. This includes giving through wills and life insurance as well as through more complex methods.
“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.
But where does the money go?, you may ask. Well, Giving USA’s report shares that information as well.
Religion — $119.30 billion (2.7% increase)
Education —$57.48 billion (8.9% increase)
Human services —$45.21 billion (4.2% increase)
Giving to Foundations —$42.26 billion (3.8% decrease)
Health organizations — $29.81 billion (1.3% increase)
Public-society benefit organizations — $26.95 billion (5% increase)
Arts, culture and the humanities — $17.07 billion (7% increase)
International affairs — $15.75 billion (17.5% increase)
Environmental and animal organizations —$10.68 billion (6.2% increase)
We hope your organization or institution benefited from increased gifts in 2015. If your fundraising is growing, take the time to diversify your solicitations so you are not dependent on one source of revenue. And plan now for the “rainy days.” They are sure to return, but you can plan now to reduce their impact. If you have not benefited, don’t worry. Gifts are not distributed equally across all organizations. Keep focused on fundraising and carefully review and revise your strategies.
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. Download the report at http://bit.ly/ReportGiving.
Copyright 2016 – Mel and Pearl Shaw
Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of Prerequisites for Fundraising Success available on Amazon.com. For help growing your fundraising visit www.saadandshaw.com or call (901) 522-8727.