The numbers are in: Americans gave an estimated $358.38 billion to charity in 2014. That’s 7.1 percent over 2013, and the fifth year in a row that giving increased. Individuals – that’s you and me – continue to give an estimated 90% of all gifts. Here’s how it breaks out: individual gifts represented $258.51 billion (72% of the total). That’s you – your tithes and offerings at church, your online gifts, support for walkathons, the checks you write, stocks you transfer – every $25 gift and every $2.5 million gift. We also gave $28.13 billion through bequests – the money left to charities in your family members’ wills. Finally, those with the ability to give to foundations gave another $41.62 billion.
Giving USA 2015: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2014 breaks down last year’s giving and the numbers are amazing. In 2014 the amount given to charity was the highest total in the 60 years that the report has been produced. Researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, the report is published by Giving USA Foundation.
Here are a few more details: Foundation giving totaled $53.97 billion, (8.2 percent higher than 20130 and corporate giving was $17.77 billion (up 13.7 percent from 2013). There were some large gifts – individual gifts ranging from $200 million to one of almost $2 billion given by technology entrepreneurs.
Where did the money go? Most went to religion ($114.90 billion), then education ($54.62 billion), human Services ($42.10 billion) , health ($30.37 billion), arts/culture/humanities ($17.23 billion), environment/animals ($10.50 billion), public-society benefit ($26.29 billion), foundations ($41.62 billion) and international affairs($15.10 billion).
Giving to human services continued to increase as did giving to education. Individuals increased their support of giving to civic and civil rights organizations, and to community and economic development.
Those who read this column regularly know how much we stress the case for support. Here’s how W. Keith Curtis, chair of the Giving USA Foundation ties the case to increased giving: “The growth can be attributed, in part, to the ways charities have been working smarter during daunting times. Nonprofits increasingly are making sure they have strong cases for support, communicate frequently with donors and provide proof of the impact charitable gifts make.”
Related to this, the report notes that donors are “more and more” interested in knowing the strategies nonprofits use and the impact their dollars make. Nonprofits are being asked “more and more” to be accountable for what they do with donations. The good news: many organizations are collecting more data and becoming more transparent.
Here’s what we know: your gift makes a difference. Together our gifts change lives and communities. The nonprofits we support require our support. Let’s keep giving.
More information at http://bit.ly/GivingUSA2015
Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.