Thursday, January 23, 2014

Charitable Giving at All-Time High

Whether or not our economy has fully recovered from the great recession, one thing is for sure: charitable giving is at an all-time high. That’s right. In 2013, charitable giving was up nearly 13% in the United States for a grand total of $416.5 billion, according to Atlas of Giving.

Up from $368.8 billion in 2012, it also marks the third straight year of growth since the low point of $316.5 billion in 2009, the year the recession ended. The steady incline indicates a thriving philanthropic sector and strong culture of giving in the United States.

Giving trends to watch:
  • More donors are providing unrestricted support, allowing nonprofits to use their donation towards the area of greatest need. 
  • Designated giving days are breaking records – Giving Tuesday saw a 90% increase in online gifts compared to 2012, while 52,371 people donated $17.2 million to more than 4,000 nonprofits on Minnesota’s Give to the Max Day 2013

What do these trends mean for nonprofits?
While the overall increase in charitable giving is most-likely related to economic growth, it seems that more urgent crisis and natural disasters, myriad opportunities and platforms for giving, and the up-and-coming active millennial generation all contribute to changing the face of our philanthropic sector.

Some worry that designated giving days detract from traditional year-end appeals, but that does not generally seem to be the case. “Giving Tuesday and all of those giving activities earlier in the giving season didn’t seem to impact the total dollars or the number of donations in the last three days of the year,” says Caryn Stein, director of content strategy at Network for Good. In fact, the proportion of donations made online during the last few days of the year remained steady at 10%.

The statistics are clear: donors want to connect online. With increases across the board in online giving, it is quickly becoming the preferred method for donors to provide support. They are looking for a quick, convenient, and secure way to send their donation.

Despite increases in overall giving, Americans rank 13th in the world for percentage of people that give to charity, according to the World Giving Index. Myanmar, formerly one of the world’s least developed countries and emerging from decades of isolation, ethnic conflict, and poverty, ranked first with 85% of the population giving to charity. This illustrates a new trend in global giving, opening up the potential of developing economies and pushing the idea that giving is not just about wealth. However, when looking at the World Giving Index’s generosity trifecta of donating to charity, volunteering, and helping a stranger, the United States claims the top spot, indicating that Americans value a variety of ways of giving back.

Even as the face of giving changes, there’s no doubt that the nonprofit sector continues to be an integral piece of the fabric of our country, providing vital services supported by a generous and engaged public. How do you think these trends will affect you in 2014?


Wendy Wehr said...

Readers of this post might be interested in the debate in the Chronicle of Philanthropy -- -- about the differing methodologies to track giving levels. Giving USA disputes the figures in the first paragraph -- but that's not to say the figures are right or wrong . . . and, regardless, charitable giving at any and every level is certainly essential to our civil society!

Keely said...

Thanks Wendy! I did see that article in the Chronicle after posting this yesterday, and I'm glad you brought it to the attention of our readers. I agree though - no matter what the exact numbers might be(and whether or not they can even be accurately determined), charitable giving at any level is a win!

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