Record $373.25 Billion Given To U.S. Charities

Donors dug deep during 2015 and reached record highs in charitable giving for a second consecutive year hitting $373.25 billion, up 4.1 percent from 2014, according to preliminary estimates released today. It’s the first time in a decade that giving reached double-digit growth during a two-year period at 10.1 percent.

The statistics are from “Giving USA 2016: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2015,” a publication of Giving USA Foundation written and researched by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy in Indianapolis, Ind. It’s the first comprehensive estimate of giving during 2015, based on econometric models and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) data. It also revises preliminary estimates released a year ago for 2014.

The revised inflation-adjusted estimate for giving in 2014 was $359.04 billion, with current-dollar growth of 7.8 percent, or 6.1 percent when adjusted for inflation. That number added to the 4.1 percent for 2015 is the 10.1 percent growth figure.

After two years of declines, giving to international affairs had the largest increase compared to 2014, at 17.5 percent, or 17.4 percent inflation adjusted, to $15.75 billion, followed by:

  • Education, 8.9 percent/8.8 percent adjusted for inflation, $57.48 billion;
  • Arts, culture, and humanities, 7 percent/6.8 percent, $17.07 billion;
  • Environmental and animal, 6.2 percent/6.1 percent, $10.68 billion;
  • Public-society benefit, 6 percent/5.9 percent, $26.95 billion;
  • Human services, 4.2 percent/4.1 percent, $45.21 billion;
  • Religion, 2.7 percent/2.6 percent, $119.3 billion;
  • Health, 1.3 percent/1.2 percent, $29.81 billion;
  • Individuals, -1.6 percent, -1.8 percent, $6.56 billion; and,
  • Foundations, -3.8 percent, -4 percent, $42.26 billion.

Unallocated giving totaled $2.18 billion in 2015. This is considered the difference between giving by source and by use in any particularly year. It includes the difference between itemized deductions by individuals carried over from previous years. It is the tax year in which a gift is claimed by the donor and the year when the organization reports it as revenue might differ.

Growth in charitable donations has outperformed growth in GDP between 2010 and 2015, according to Jeffrey Byrne, chairman of The Giving Institute and president and CEO of Jeffery D. Byrne + Associates. Inflation-adjusted total giving grew at an annualized rate of 3.6 percent during that period while GDP growth grew at an average rate of 2 percent, he said.