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Giving Statistics

 
 

Few people realize how large charities have become, how many vital services they provide, and how much funding flows through them each year. Without charities and non-profits, America would simply not be able to operate. Their operations are so big that during 2014, total giving was more than $358 billion.

How big is the sector?

  • Total giving to charitable organizations was $358.38 billion in 2014 (about 2% of GDP). This is an increase of 7.1% in current dollars and 5.4% in inflation-adjusted dollars from 2013.
  • This is the fifth straight year that giving has increased and the first year to surpass the previous high-water mark of $355.17 billion seen in 2007.
     

Where are donations coming from?

  • Giving increased in every category of giver (foundation, corporation, bequest and individual). 
  • As in previous years, the majority of that giving came from individuals. Specifically, individuals gave roughly $258.5 billion (72%) representing a 5.7% increase over 2013 (4% when adjusted for inflation).  
  • Giving by bequest was up 15.5% in current dollars (or 13.6% when adjusted for inflation) to $28.1 billion. Taken together, 
  • Foundations gave $54 billion which represented an increase of 8.2% (or 6.5% when adjusted for inflation).
  • Corporations donated $17.8 billion for an increase of 13.7% (or 11.9% when adjusted for inflation).
  • Historically, as we saw in 2014, donations from individuals account for roughly 75% of all donations. If you add in gifts from bequests and family foundations, which are essentially gifts from individuals, then the category accounts for nearly 90% of all giving. In other words, the donating public, not big foundations or corporations, is responsible for the vast majority of annual donations.

Where do the donations go?

  • Giving to Education charities was up 4.9% (3.2% inflation-adjusted) to $54.6 billion.
  • Donations to Human Services charities were up 3.6% (1.9% inflation-adjusted) to $42.1 billion.
  • Foundations saw an increase of 1.8% (0.1% inflation-adjusted) to $41.5 billion.
  • Health charities experienced an increase of 5.5% (3.8% inflation-adjusted) to $30.4 billion.
  • Charities that focus on the Environment / Animals saw an increase of 7% (5.3% inflation-adjusted) to $10.5 billion.
  • Public-Society Benefit charities saw an increase of 5.1% (3.4% inflation-adjusted) to $26.3 billion.
  • Arts, Culture and Humanities saw an increase of 9.2% (7.4% inflation-adjusted) to $17.2 billion.
  • Giving to International charities declined due to fewer overseas disasters. Specifically, gifts to International charities were down 2% (3.6% inflation-adjusted), to $15.1 billion.
  • Historically, Religious groups have received the largest share of charitable donations. While this was still true in 2014, this was the first year since 2009 that it didn't decline or remain flat.  With the 2.5% increase (0.9% inflation-adjusted) in donations this year, 32% of all donations ($114.9 billion) went to Religious organizations. Much of these contributions can be attributed to people giving to their local place of worship. 
  • The next largest sector was Education with 15% of all donations.


All data is the property of Giving USA 2015, the Annual Report on Philanthropy.  

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