Atlas of Giving: U.S. Charitable Giving Tops $450 Billion in 2014
(Press release, Jan. 28, 2015) — Atlas of Giving shared the 2014 final report on charitable giving in the United States and released the initial 2015 giving forecast. As noted in the final report, Americans gave a record $456.7 billion to charity in 2014. According to the year-end report, total donations grew by 9.3 percent over 2014, fueled by favorable economic factors that drive giving, an increase in the number of nonprofit organizations, the impact of donor-advised funds, as well as advances in fundraising technology and techniques.
"Charitable giving in the U.S. is primarily a function of specific economic and demographic factors, coupled with the impact of regional, national and world events," Rob Mitchell, CEO of the Atlas of Giving, said. "How a charity chooses to go about raising money and who they raise it from determines what impact the various drivers of giving activity have on gifts to that organization."
The biggest gains in gift revenue were realized by human services/disaster relief organizations, educational institutions and environmental causes. In 2014, double-digit growth in stock prices encouraged these increases in giving to organizations such as colleges and universities, which rely heavily on large gifts and capital campaigns. An improved employment picture coupled with reduced energy prices boosted giving from discretionary income to disaster relief, social service agencies and environmental programs, most of which depend on a high volume of smaller donations to fund operations.
Improved consumer confidence also played a role in giving growth. "Mood matters," Mitchell, said. "When consumers feel better about the economy, they tend to give more."
The report also cites low inflation and historically low interest rates as factors which contributed to a robust year of receipts for America's nonprofits. Other factors which contributed to the rise in giving include a continued surge in the number of new nonprofits and churches in the U.S., as well as an enormous increase in contributions to donor-advised fund accounts. In fact, the number of U.S. nonprofit organizations recognized by the IRS has grown 50 percent since 2003.