'Giving USA 2016': Breaking Down 'America's Most Generous Year Ever'
Charitable giving topped $373 billion in 2015, a 4 percent increase over 2014, according to "Giving USA 2016," the annual report published by Giving USA Foundation and produced by Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. The giving totals are the highest ever recorded for a single year.
The report, released today, is encouraging for nonprofits. In 2014, giving surpassed pre-recession levels for the first time in seven years—totaling $359.04 billion (adjusted for inflation) and setting a new record for yearly giving. The 2015 total, $373.25 billion, smashed that record, marking the sixth consecutive year giving totals increased after a 16-year low in 2009.
“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,” Giving USA Foundation Chair Keith Curtis, president of nonprofit consulting firm The Curtis Group, said in a release. “But these findings embody more than numbers—they also are a symbol of the country’s spirit. Americans are embracing philanthropy at a higher level than ever before.”
Don't have time to dig into the full report? No worries. We've compiled some of the highlights below. Let's hit it:
- The $373.25 billion total for 2015 amounts to $1.02 billion in giving each day.
- Charitable contributions from all four sources—individual giving, foundation giving, charitable bequests and corporate giving—increased in 2015.
- Individual giving totaled $264.58 billion, a 3.8 percent real-dollar increase over the prior year and 70.9 percent of all 2015 giving. Foundation giving saw the highest percentage growth, at 6.5 percent over 2014.
- Of the nine charitable sub-sectors—religion, education, human services, foundations, health, public-society benefit, arts/culture/humanities, international affairs and environment/animals—all but one had growth in charitable donations over 2014.
- Foundations, with a 3.8 percent real-dollar decrease, was the only sub-sector to which giving declined. Despite the drop, foundations remained the fastest-growing sub-sector by contributions received from 2011 to 2015.
- International affairs saw the largest growth of any sub-sector, with donations increasing 17.4 percent in real dollars—its first increase after declines in 2013 and 2014. It was the only sub-sector to which giving grew by double digits, and its growth was more than twice that of the closest sub-sector (education, at 8.9 percent real-dollar growth).
- Religion topped all sub-sectors in contributions received—its $119.3 billion was more than twice that of its nearest competitor (education, at $57.48 billion). The study noted that giving to religion has "steadily shrunk for decades," yet the sub-sector has topped all others in total donations received every year.
- About 2 percent of 2015's giving total, $6.56 billion, went to individuals. The report attributed that number to in-kind donations of medicine made by patient-assistance programs at pharmaceutical foundations.
- While overall giving reached its highest point ever, 2015's 4 percent inflation-adjusted growth rate was a drop from 2014's 6.1 percent rate.
- Over the last 40 years, charitable donations have averaged out to 1.9 percent of U.S. gross domestic product. The 2015 total comes out to 2.1 percent of GDP.
Download the full report (for a fee) or a free highlights report here.