Charitable Giving to Increase 4.8 Percent in 2015, Study Predicts

Total charitable giving in the United States is expected to increase 4.8 percent on a year-over-year basis in 2015 and 4.9 percent in 2016, a report from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and consulting firm Marts & Lundy finds.

Based on an analysis of ten key predictors of giving, The Philanthropy Outlook: 2015 & 2016 (23 pages, PDF) projects that in both years, contributions from all sources will increase — including individuals and households (up 4.4 percent in 2015 and 4.1 percent in 2016), foundations (up 7.2 percent and 6.7 percent), estates (up 2.7 percent and 6.3 percent), and corporations (up 6.0 percent and 4.8 percent). The study also anticipates that projected above-average growth in the S&P 500 and average to above-average increases in personal income and household and nonprofit net worth will drive increases in total giving that exceed the 3.1 percent average annual growth since the Great Recession and the 3.8 percent annual average between 1973 and 2013.

According to the report, average annual giving is expected to increase by $17.3 billion in the five-year period between 2012 and 2016, compared with an average decline of $6.7 billion between 2007 and 2011. "The results of the Philanthropy Outlook suggest that the nonprofit sector appears to be continuing on the road to recovery," the report states, while noting that slower-than-expected growth in GDP, the S&P 500, and/or household and nonprofit net worth could affect giving trends over the next two years.

"While the economic and financial sector has seen greater than normal economic volatility in recent years, the projected growth in the overall economy suggests a more stable and more positive environment for philanthropy," said Una Osili, director of research for the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. "The report supports emerging evidence that improvements in the economic environment will have implications for donors and nonprofits. Importantly, though, increasing philanthropic giving will require that nonprofits have not only a positive economic environment but also a strong, clear case for support and thoughtful cultivation of donor relationships."

"U.S. Charitable Giving Projected to Grow 4.8 Percent in 2015, 4.9 Percent in 2016." Indiana University Lilly School of Philanthropy Press Release 02/24/2015.