US Giving Saw a Rise in 2019, According to The Giving Institute

In 2019, charitable giving rose by 4.2% in the US, reaching 449.64 billion dollars. In comparison, in 2018, Americans gave an estimated $431.43 billion to charities, which means an increase of $18.21 billion in 2019. The increase of giving in the US was driven by both individual and corporate donors, backed by a strong stock market.

The data comes from Giving USA 2020, the annual report on philanthropy for 2019, published by The Giving USA Foundation (an initiative of The Giving Institute) and written by The Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Giving USA 2020 is the first aggregate estimate of total giving in the U.S. for 2019, and is based on various econometric models and government data.

According to Una Osili, Ph.D., associate dean for research and international programs at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, 2019 was characterized by a solid, broad-based growth in charitable giving, and especially in giving by individuals, due to the strong growth in the S&P 500 and in personal income. She adds that “giving trends vary according to donor’s income and wealth, and ever since the Great Recession, we noticed that giving has been concentrated towards the top end of the income and wealth spectrum”

According to Amir Pasic, Ph.D., the Eugene R. Tempel Dean of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, the total increase in giving for last year happened due to an increase in giving by individuals, who are the major source of giving. This tendency is closely linked to that of the distribution of wealth and growth of assets across a decade of stock market expansion.

According to the report for 2019, eight out of the nine subsectors tracked saw an increase in giving. Giving to public-society benefit organizations increased an estimated 13.1%, to $37.16 billion (an increase of 11.1%, adjusted for inflation). It is also the sixth consecutive year of growth for the sub-sector of arts, culture and humanities which saw an increase of 12.6%, to $21.64 billion (an increase of 10.6%, adjusted for inflation). On the other hand, giving to international affairs organizations declined after two years of growth, with a decline of 0.4%, to $28.89 billion (a decline of 2.2%, adjusted for inflation).

Giving by individuals represents less than 70% of overall giving and last year it increased for only the second time ever. Giving by foundations has grown in nine of the past ten years, reaching a record dollar amount last year ($75.69 billion). Corporate giving also grew significantly (21.09 billion): this type of giving is characterized by more turbulent variations due to being very responsive to changes in pre-tax profits and GDP.

“Generally speaking, when there is broad-base economic growth, it is reflected in increased giving to all of the various sub-sectors” affirmed Patrick M. Rooney, Ph.D., executive associate dean for academic programs at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

“It is encouraging to see that not only did America’s corporate and foundation contributions increase, but also that its citizens continue to account for the substantial majority of giving. said Ted Grossnickle, chair of The Giving Institute, and senior consultant and founder of Johnson, Grossnickle + Associates.

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