Report: Charitable Giving Will Increase 5.7 Percent In 2014
July 25, 2014 Zach Halper
Charitable giving is estimated to increase 5.7 percent during 2014, according to the latest report from the Atlas of Giving. The 5.7 percent estimated increase in 2014 was revised from earlier predictions, which the company dubbed a “reduction.” The Dallas, Texas-based Atlas released its initial estimates for giving in 2013 and 2014 in January and estimated that giving increased 13 percent from 2012 and 8.3 percent compared to 2013. The company’s initial report pegged 2014’s increase at 4 percent but subsequent revisions could not be found on its site. Overall, the firm estimated that $417.80 billion was raised in 2013, while it expects $441.58 billion to be raised in 2014. “In 2013 we experienced a fantastic, record-setting year for charitable giving in the United States,” said Rob Mitchell, CEO of the Atlas of Giving. “Stock market growth fueled much of the giving but improving employment, growing real estate values, a lack of inflation, low interest rates, and acceleration in GDP also helped to make 2013 an especially strong giving year. Breaking the $400 billion mark is a historic event that bolsters U.S dominance of world philanthropy.” Atlas’ estimates on giving in 2013 differ greatly from those of the benchmark Giving USA study, which estimated that $335.17 billion was raised, an increase of 3 percent when adjusted for inflation. Giving USA is released by the Giving USA Foundation with the research handled by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy in Indianapolis, Ind. Various posts on Atlas’ website claim that Giving USA’s estimate was “flawed,” criticizing its reliance on what it calls outdated Internal Revenue Service (IRS) charitable deduction data. The site does not, however, reveal Atlas’ methodology. A call for comment to Mitchell for an explanation of the company’s methodology was not immediately returned. According to Giving USA’s website, estimates “are based on econometric models using tax data, government estimates for economic indicators, and information from other research institutions.” It lists the Foundation Center, Bureau of Economic Analysis, and the IRS among its sources. Atlas’ report predicted that the reduction in overall giving for 2014 will largely be fueled by what the firm projected to be an underperforming November and December, when giving is predicted to be down by 0.8 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively, when compared to last year. The month that had the highest increase in giving in the Atlas report compared to from 2013 so far is February, when $36.58 billion a projected, a 9.8 percent increase. Other highlights of Atlas’ 2013/2014 report include:
- Human needs (19 percent) and environmental causes (18.5 percent) showed the highest rate of giving last year.
- The lingering effects of high unemployment continue to hurt churches and organizations that rely on a large number of small gifts from many donors.
- Giving to churches and religious organizations is a shrinking proportional share of total giving (35 percent in 2013, down from 36 percent in 2012 and 37 percent in 2010), but it is still the largest giving sector in the U.S.