Giving Exceeds $400 Billion in 2017

Americans’ generosity reached a new high in 2017, setting the all-time record for charitable giving, according to Giving USA 2018, Giving USA’s Annual Report on Philanthropy for 2017.

For the first time ever, we not only reached the $400 billion mark, we blew past it, donating $410.02 billion to charitable causes of all kinds. This represents a 5.2% increase in giving over 2016 (3% adjusted for inflation).

Sources of Contributions

The bulk of these donations (70%) were made by individuals. Foundations contributed 16%. Giving by bequest accounted for 9% of the total and contributions by corporations made up 5%. All of these funding sources increased over 2016 contributions, with corporate giving seeing the highest growth at 8% (5.7% adjusted for inflation). As you plan your funding strategy for next year, think about ways you can capitalize on this growing trend in giving and reach out to those who care about your cause.

Funding Recipients

The flow of generosity in 2017 funded a wide variety of endeavors. Religion remained the largest subsector, receiving 31% of the charitable dollars for 2017. Education was next with 14% and human services received 12%. Eleven percent went to foundations and 9% went to health organizations. Public-society benefit organizations (voter rights, civil rights, consumer rights and community/economic development) received 7% of the total and arts/culture/humanities organizations received 5%. All of these subsectors increased in 2017, ranging from 2.9% growth for religion to 15.5% growth for foundations. Adjusted for inflation, these funds increased 0.7% and 13.1% respectively over 2016.

Contributions to international affairs organizations went down in 2017, but this subsector still received 6% of the total. Environment and animal organizations saw an increase in funding in 2017, receiving 3% of the total. Finally, gifts to individuals decreased in 2017, representing 2% of total charitable giving.

A Turbulent Year

There were a number of factors at play in 2017 that had a significant effect on giving:

  • A new federal administration.
  • Tumultuous political climate.
  • Changes in tax policy.

Over the course of the next few months, we’ll be exploring these and other trends from the 2018 Giving Report and share them on this blog. Stay tuned for insights, analysis and key information you can use to develop your own fundraising strategy.

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