Gifts from individuals, corporations, and foundations totaled an estimated $373.25 billion in 2015, setting a record for the second straight year, the latest edition of Giving USA reports.
Produced by the Giving USA Foundation and the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, Giving USA 2016: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2015 found that giving increased 4.1 percent in current dollars in 2015 (4 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars). The report also revised the inflation-adjusted estimate for 2014 giving to $359.04 billion, up 7.8 percent (6.1 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars) from 2013, and found that giving in 2015 rose in all four categories it tracks: living individuals, up 3.8 percent (3.7 percent in inflation-adjusted figures), to an estimated $264.58 billion; bequests, up 2.1 percent (1.9 percent), to $31.76 billion; foundations, up 6.5 percent (6.3 percent), to $58.46 billion; and corporations, up 3.9 percent (3.8 percent), to $18.45 billion. Among foundations, grantmaking by operating foundations increased the most (8.1 percent), followed by community foundations (7.4 percent) and independent foundations (6 percent).
The report also found that giving increased across all issue areas in 2015, with giving to religious causes up 2.7 percent (2.6 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars), to an estimated $119.3 billion; giving to education up 8.9 percent (8.8 percent), to $57.48 billion; and giving to human services up 4.2 percent (4.1 percent), to $45.21 billion. Giving to foundations, which fell 3.8 percent (4 percent), to $42.26 billion, was the exception to the trend. The report noted that very large gifts of at least $100 million totaled $3.3 billion in 2015.
According to the report, the strong growth in overall giving two years in a row could be due, in part, to an improving economic environment and the stabilization of household finances.
"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," said Giving USA Foundation chair W. Keith Curtis. "But these findings embody more than numbers — they also are a symbol of the American spirit."