Charitable Giving in the U.S.: 2015 Sets Record as America’s Most Generous Year

CHICAGO, IL (June 14, 2016) - In 2015, charitable giving in the U.S. reached a total of $373.25 billion - an increase of 4.1 percent in current dollars between 2014 and 2015, according to Giving USA 2016: The Annual Report on Philanthropy. The increase in charitable giving by all sources marks consecutive, record-setting years in total giving, a direct reflection of both economic improvement and the dedication of hardworking philanthropists driving Americans to record levels of giving.     

“The results this year—milestones for giving in the USA—are truly inspiring. The total of $373.25 billion is 2.1% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a watermark reinforcing Americans’ commitments to organizations that impact both their lives and those of their fellow citizens,” says Peter Fissinger, President & Chief Executive Officer of Campbell & Company, a national fundraising consulting and executive search firm for nonprofits. “The continued upward trend is heartening, and those of us in this industry will strive to help the organizations we serve build upon such generosity, further advancing their missions in the world.” 

Key Findings
  • Charitable giving in the U.S. has achieved its second year of consecutive growth, the highest-level reached since the Great Recession. Conclusively, the period of 2009 to 2015 is now considered the fastest-recovery period that has occurred in the last 40 years.
  • Giving by American individuals in 2015 grew by 3.8 percent between 2014 and 2015, which represents 71 percent of total charitable giving in 2015. Individual giving reached a total of $264.58 billion.

2015 contributions: $373.25 billion by source (in billions of dollars – all figures are rounded)

 Graph1GUSA2016.jpg

  • When looking at changes in giving by sector type of recipient organizations, the international affairs subsector achieved the largest increase, 17.5 percent, between 2014 and 2015. Subsequently, the education subsector was the second-largest change in increase, which grew by 8.9 percent between 2014 and 2015. Eight out of nine subsector recipient organizations increased, which includes religion, education, human services, health, public-society benefit, arts, culture, and humanities, international affairs and environmental/animal organizations. Foundations declined between 2014 and 2015. The chart below represents changes in giving by type of recipient organization in 2013-2014, 2014-2015, and in 2014-2015.

Changes in Giving by Type of Recipient Organization 2013-2014, 2014-2015, 2013-2015 (in current dollars)

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  • Charitable contributions by individuals, bequests, and family foundations reached a total of 88 percent of total giving in 2015. As during 2013-2014, corporate giving held at 5 percent of total giving.

These key findings are intended to provide extensive insight and understanding in what motivates and drives charitable giving in the U.S. Our goal is to identify actionable insights and to help provide the resources that you need in order to launch your organization’s future success. We are hosting a series of events in local cities near you to further discuss recommendations and implementation strategies that explain how to best navigate the current landscape of philanthropy. We invite you to join us as we further discuss how to propel the philanthropic environment and harness the culture of giving back. To learn more about these events or to RSVP, visit this our events page. 

Public release of the report throughout the U.S. was published at 12:01 a.m. ET on Tuesday, June 14, 2016. If you want to purchase Giving USA products, please visit www.givingusa.org and use code give4 to receive 30% off.

Questions? Please visit www.campbellcompany.com. We are happy to further discuss these findings with you. 

Nonprofit Trends, Giving USA

Peter Fissinger

Peter Fissinger is President and Chief Executive Officer of Campbell & Company. Throughout his 30-year career in institutional advancement, Peter has designed and implemented major capital fundraising, annual giving programs, planned giving programs, and marketing and publication efforts.

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