American Donations to Charities Set Record in 2017 – Gifts Exceeded $400 Billion for 1st Time in History!

Guest post by Joe Hoft

Americans gifted more money to charities in 2017 than any other year in recorded history, surpassing more than $400 billion in donations!

According to GivingUSA.org Americans set a record in giving in 2017 due to a booming stock market and a strong economy.  All together Americans gave an estimated $410.02 billion in 2017, according to Giving USA 2018: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2017.

Giving exceeded $400 billion in a single year for the first time, increasing 5.2 percent (3.0 percent adjusted for inflation) over the revised total of $389.64 contributed in 2016. (Please see below for a more detailed breakdown of the numbers for each philanthropic source and sector.)

Giving USA, the longest-running and most comprehensive report of its kind in America, is published by Giving USA Foundation, a public service initiative of The Giving Institute. It is researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI.

“Americans’ record-breaking charitable giving in 2017 demonstrates that even in divisive times our commitment to philanthropy is solid. As people have more resources available, they are choosing to use them to make a difference, pushing giving over $400 billion,” said Aggie Sweeney, CFRE, chair of Giving USA Foundation and senior counsel at Campbell & Company. “Contributions went up nearly across the board, signaling that Americans seem to be giving according to their beliefs and interests, which are diverse and wide-ranging.”

Giving from all four sources and giving to all but one of the major types of recipient organizations grew in 2017, driven by economic conditions. While policy developments may have played some role in charitable giving in 2017, most of the effects of the tax policy changes adopted in late December 2017 likely will affect giving in 2018 and beyond.

“The increase in giving in 2017 was generated in part by increases in the stock market, as evidenced by the nearly 20 percent growth in the S&P 500. Investment returns funded multiple very large gifts, most of which were given by individuals to their foundations, including two gifts of $1 billion or more,” said Amir Pasic, Ph.D., the Eugene R. Tempel dean of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. “This tells us that some of our most fortunate citizens are using their wealth to make some significant contributions to the common good.”

In addition to the S&P 500, other economic factors, such as personal income and personal consumption, are associated with households’ long-term financial stability and have historically been correlated with giving by individuals. These factors also experienced strong growth in 2017.

The report summarized the numbers for 2017 by source –

  • Giving by individuals totaled an estimated $286.65 billion, rising 5.2 percent in 2017 (an increase of 3.0 percent, adjusted for inflation).
  • Giving by foundations increased 6.0 percent, to an estimated $66.90 billion in 2017 (an increase of 3.8 percent, adjusted for inflation). Data on foundation giving are provided by the Foundation Center.
  • Giving by bequest totaled an estimated $35.70 billion in 2017, increasing 2.3 percent from 2016 (a 0.2 percent increase, adjusted for inflation).
  • Giving by corporations is estimated to have increased by 8.0 percent in 2017, totaling $20.77 billion (an increase of 5.7 percent, adjusted for inflation).

Americans are the most giving people in history.  Thanks to President Trump’s policies that ignited the economy, charitable giving set a new record in 2017 and due to the tax cuts, the US is expected to set more records in 2018 and beyond.

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