Americans Embrace Philanthropy At Record Setting Level

Americans Embrace Philanthropy At Record Setting Level
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Donations and contributions by Americans reached record setting levels for the second year in succession, as revealed in a report from the Giving USA Foundation and Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.


The report shows that charitable donations and giving totals recorded in 2015 reached as much as $373.25 billion, an increase of 4 percent from 2014.

These contributions, received from individuals, corporations and foundations, helped donations cross the $1 billion per day record for the first time in history, as reported by US News and World Report. In a statement, W. Keith Curtis, president of The Curtis Group and chairman of the Giving USA Foundation, highlighted that “Americans are embracing philanthropy at a higher level than ever before.”

“If you look at total giving by two-year time spans, the combined growth for 2014 and 2015 hit double digits, reaching 10.1 percent when calculated using inflation-adjusted dollars.”

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Contributions made by individuals were the largest in terms of dollar amount – amounting to $264.58 billion. In the last decade, there have been more contributions of or in excess of $100 million than in previous years; last year, these large donations that were publicly announcement reached $3.3 billion.

Giving USA notes the largest year over year percentage increase in contributions from sources came through grants from American foundations – upping by 6.5 percent in current dollars and 6.3 percent when inflation adjusted.

“Each year, gifts of $100 million or more play a significant role for some individual donors and many different types of charities, and they do affect the numbers,” Patrick Rooney, associate dean for academic affairs and research at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, said in a statement.

“Philanthropy is quite democratic and always has been – more people give than vote in the U.S. – and $20, $10 and $1 gifts do make a cumulative difference,” he said.

Contributions and donations made in the last two years have gone beyond the U.S.’s overall economic output. While the GDP rose by 2.4 percent in the last two years, donations saw a surge of 4.1 percent last year and 7.8 percent the year before. Wage growth, moreover, has maintained around 2 percent.

“Consider this: Inflation-adjusted total giving grew at an annualized average rate of 3.6 percent [between 2010 and 2015]; meanwhile, GDP growth [hit] an average rate of 2 percent,” Jeffrey Byrne, president and CEO of fundraising consultancy Jeffrey D. Byrne + Associates and chairman of The Giving Institute, said in a statement.

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