Philanthropy sets record for second consecutive year

Charitable donations reached $373.25 billion in 2015, according to Giving USA

Jun 14, 2016 @ 12:38 pm

By Tanvi Acharya

Philanthropy reached an all-time high for the second year in a row as Americans donated around $1 billion per day in 2015.

With an increase in donations from every source, individuals and foundations alike, the estimated total of $373.25 billion, in inflation adjusted dollars, represents a desire to give that has been on the rise since 2009, according to the Giving USA 2016 report released on Tuesday.

“It's heartening that people really do want to make a difference, and they're supporting the causes that matter to them,” said Giving USA Foundation Chair W. Keith Curtis. “Americans are embracing philanthropy at a higher level than ever before.”

Source: Giving USA 2015 report

Individual donations again lead the way with 71% of all contributions while also responsible for two-thirds of last year's overall increase in total giving.

However, the largest year-over-year percentage increase in contributions came from foundations in form of grants. It was up 6.3% when adjusted for inflation, according to data provided by the Foundation Center.

According to the center, around half of their high-net-worth private foundation donors claim never to have asked philanthropic advice from financial advisers. They were more than twice as likely to reach out to a philanthropic peer or colleague instead of an adviser.

However, they showed interest in asking their adviser about cultivating philanthropic engagement in subsequent generations, examining social impact investing or achieving philanthropic goals.

Source: Giving USA 2015 report

After two straight years of decline and a long period of slow growth, giving to international affairs increased 17.5% last year. The large increase may be attributable to an increase in number of active international charitable organizations and growing focus on international issues, according to the report.

Growth in charitable donations outperformed growth in gross domestic product over the last five years, as the former grew at an annualized average rate of 3.6% compared with a 2% growth rate for GDP, according to Jeffrey D. Byrne, chair of The Giving Institute.

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