Powered by a booming stock market and a strong economy, charitable giving by American individuals, bequests, foundations and corporations to U.S. charities surged to an estimated $410.02 billion in 2017, according to Giving USA 2018: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2017, released today.
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.)
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.
Highlights about Charitable Giving by Source
- Giving by three of the four sources of giving grew 5 percent or more.
- Giving by individuals represented 70 percent of total giving.
- Giving by foundations has seen strong growth for the past seven years, according to data provided by the Foundation Center. Its five-year annualized average growth rate of 7.6 percent far exceeds the 4.3 percent annualized average growth rate for total giving.
- Corporate giving was boosted by $405 million in contributions for relief related to natural and manmade disasters.
The Numbers for 2017 Charitable Giving 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).
Highlights about 2017 Gifts to Charitable Organizations
- Charitable subsectors receiving contributions generally experienced strong growth.
- Giving to foundations saw the largest growth in charitable contributions, increasing 15.5 percent, based on data provided by the Foundation Center. This growth was driven by extraordinarily large gifts by major philanthropists, such as Michael and Susan Dell and Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, to their foundations.
- Giving to eight of the nine major types of recipient organizations increased in 2017.
- The exception was giving to international affairs organizations, which declined after several years of steady growth. However, giving to this subsector still reached its third-highest level ever recorded.
- Seven of the nine types of recipient organizations experienced growth of 5 percent or more....
The Numbers for 2017 Charitable Giving to Recipients:
- Giving to religion increased 2.9 percent (0.7 percent adjusted for inflation), receiving an estimated $127.37 billion in contributions.
- Giving to education is estimated to have increased 6.2 percent (4.0 percent adjusted for inflation) to $58.90 billion.
- Giving to human services increased by an estimated 5.1 percent (2.9 percent adjusted for inflation) totaling $50.06 billion.
- Giving to foundations is estimated to have increased by 15.5 percent (13.1 percent adjusted for inflation) to $45.89 billion, based on data provided by the Foundation Center.
- Giving to health organizations is estimated to have increased by 7.3 percent (5.1 percent adjusted for inflation) to $38.27 billion.
- Giving to public-society benefit organizations increased an estimated 7.8 percent (5.5 percent adjusted for inflation) to $29.59 billion.
- Giving to arts, culture, and humanities is estimated to have increased 8.7 percent (6.5 percent) to $19.51 billion.
- Giving to international affairs is estimated to have declined 4.4 percent (6.4 percent adjusted for inflation) to $22.97 billion.
- Giving to environment and animal organizations is estimated to have increased 7.2 percent (5.0 percent adjusted for inflation) to $11.83 billion.
In addition, giving to individuals, which is less than 2 percent of total giving, is estimated to have declined 20.7 percent (22.4 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars) in 2017, to $7.87 billion, primarily as a result of an unusually high increase in 2016. The bulk of these donations are in-kind gifts of medications to patients in need, made through the patient assistance programs of pharmaceutical companies’ operating foundations.
Unallocated giving was negative $2.24 billion in 2017. This amount can be considered the difference between giving by source and use in a particular year. It includes the difference between itemized deductions by individuals (and households) carried over from previous years. The tax year in which a gift is claimed by the donor (carried over) and the year when the recipient organization reports it as revenue (the year in which it is received) may be different.