Inspiration Report

151124-F-DB969-020Charitable giving in America topped $400 billion for the first time in 2017. The Giving USA report stated that gifts from individuals, estates, foundations and corporations surged from $389.64 billion in 2016 to over $410 billion in 2017. This means that Americans donated more money to charity than some countries, such as Ireland, make in a year.

Giving USA Foundation published the comprehensive report on American’s giving patterns. This annual report is researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. According to this research done on 2017 donations, charitable giving increased in all but one of the sectors identified by Giving USA. The only area that declined was giving related to international affairs.

While charitable giving to international affairs fell, giving to foundations increased dramatically. Charitable giving to foundations was up by 15.5 percent in 2017. One major driver of that increase was a number of major philanthropists who donated to their own foundations. Among those philanthropist-foundation pairs were the CEO of Dell and his wife, Michael and Susan Dell, who donated $1 billion and the CEO of Facebook and his wife, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, who donated $2 billion.

Outside of foundations driven by billion dollar gifts, charitable giving increased by more than six percent to arts and culture, health, environment and animal welfare, education and public-society benefit organizations that deal with issues such as voter education, civil rights, civil liberties and consumer rights.

The amount of money donated in 2017 increased significantly compared to previous years, but when compared to the United States’ gross domestic product, the growth in charitable donations was much smaller. Charitable donations have been roughly two percent of the gross domestic product in recent years. This past year saw a small uptick to 2.1 percent. While the change in percentage is miniscule, the dollar figure is significant given the size of the United States’ gross domestic product as well as in the strengthening economy.

Aggie Sweeney, chair of Giving USA Foundation, was pleased by the increase in charitable giving. “Americans’ record-breaking charitable giving in 2017 demonstrates that even in divisive times our commitment to philanthropy is solid,” she said. It is good to see there is at least something productive on which the entire country can agree.

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