Giving USA: 2015 America’s Most Generous Year Ever
Charitable donations hit record for second year in a row, an estimated $373.25 billion
Donations from America’s individuals, estates, foundations and corporations reached an estimated $373.25 billion in 2015, setting a record for the second year in a row, reports Giving USA 2016: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2015.
That new peak in contributions is record-setting whether measured in current or inflation-adjusted dollars. In 2015, total giving grew 4.1 percent in current dollars (4.0 percent when adjusted for inflation) over 2014. The revised inflation-adjusted estimate for total giving in 2014 was $359.04 billion, with current-dollar growth of 7.8 percent, and an inflation-adjusted increase of 6.1 percent.
But that’s not the only big news about charitable giving in this year’s report, the longest-running and most comprehensive of its kind in America. Published by Giving USA Foundation, a public-service initiative of The Giving Institute, Giving USA is researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.
“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,” said Giving USA Foundation Chair W. Keith Curtis, president of nonprofit consulting firm The Curtis Group, Virginia Beach, Virginia. “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.”
Charitable contributions from all four sources went up in 2015, with those from individuals once again leading the way in terms of total dollar amount, at $264.58 billion. This follows the historical pattern seen over more than six decades.
2015 Charitable Giving by Source:
- Individual giving, $264.58 billion, increased 3.8 percent in current dollars (3.7 percent when inflation-adjusted) over 2014.
- Foundation giving, $58.46 billion, was 6.5 percent higher than 2014 (6.3 percent when inflation-adjusted).
- Charitable bequests, $31.76 billion, increased 2.1 percent (1.9 percent when inflation-adjusted) over 2014.
- Corporate giving, $18.45 billion, increased 3.9 percent (3.8 percent when inflation-adjusted) over 2014.
When looking at the nine categories of recipients, all but one had growth in charitable donations last year. In addition, “five charitable subsectors saw large increases in 2015: giving to education; arts, culture and humanities; environment/animals; public-society benefit; and international affairs. Each of these subsectors grew by more than 5 percent,” said Una Osili, Ph.D., director of research at the school.
2015 Charitable Giving to Recipients
- Religion—at $119.30 billion, 2015 giving increased 2.7 percent in current dollars, and 2.6 percent when adjusted for inflation.
- Education—giving increased to $57.48 billion, 8.9 percent more in current dollars than the 2014 total. The inflation-adjusted increase was 8.8 percent.
- Human Services—its $45.21 billion total was 4.2 percent higher, in current dollars, than in 2014. The inflation-adjusted increase was 4.1 percent.
- To Foundations—at an estimated $42.26 billion in 2015, giving declined 3.8 percent in current dollars and decreased 4.0 percent when adjusted for inflation.
- Health—the $29.81 billion estimated for 2015 giving to this category was 1.3 percent higher, in current dollars, than the 2014 estimate. When adjusted for inflation, the increase was 1.2 percent.
- Public-Society Benefit—the $26.95 billion estimate for 2015 increased 6.0 percent in current dollars over 2014. When adjusted for inflation, the increase was 5.9 percent.
- Arts/Culture/Humanities—at an estimated $17.07 billion, growth in current dollars was 7.0 percent in 2015. When adjusted for inflation, the increase was 6.8 percent.
- International Affairs—the $15.75 billion estimate for 2015 increased 17.5 percent, in current dollars, from 2014. The increase was 17.4 percent when adjusted for inflation.
- Environment/Animals—the $10.68 billion estimate for 2015 was up 6.2 percent in current dollars, and 6.1 percent when adjusted for inflation, over 2014 giving.
In addition, 2 percent of 2015’s total, $6.56 billion, went to individuals, mostly via in-kind donations of medicine contributed by pharmaceutical foundations’ patient assistance programs.