Charitable giving hit a record high for the third straight year in 2016, reaching $390.05-billion, according to Giving USA. However, donations rose at a slower rate than in recent years — 1.4% — as key economic indicators grew modestly and a divisive election season sowed uncertainty.
Giving from living individuals, which for years has made up more than 70% of donations, rose to $281.9-billion, a 2.6% increase from 2015. That growth rate, though modest compared to recent years, helped offset a 10% loss in giving from bequests, which totaled $30.4-billion last year.
Giving by foundations is the highest it’s even after adjusting for inflation, but companies have yet to reach a pre-recession high of $18.7-billion in donations, set in 2005.
Giving USA 2017: Giving by Nonprofit Sector
- Environmental and animal-welfare organizations experienced the biggest growth, with donations rising to $11.1-billion last year, a nearly 6% increase.
- Giving to arts and culture groups grew by 5.1%, the second-biggest jump, reaching $18.2-billion.
- International-affairs nonprofits saw a 4.6% increase to $22-billion. Researchers said the growth in donations may have been driven by the giving to organizations active on issues that generated heated debated during the presidential campaign.
- Donations to health nonprofits and hospitals rose 4.4%, reaching $33.1-billion, while human-services groups saw a 2.7% increase in giving to $46.8-billion.
- Religious institutions saw gifts rise 1.8% to $122.9-billion. Although faith groups have represented the largest portion of total giving for decades, their share of donations has dropped as fewer Americans attend services and claim a religious affiliation.
Fundraising expert David King, President and CEO of Alexander Haas, presented the Giving USA 2017 results recently. You can view his presentation of the results here: