Giving by individuals, corporations, and foundations totaled an estimated $427.71 billion in 2018, up 0.7 percent from the revised total of $424.4 billion in 2017, the latest edition of Giving USA reports.
Produced by the Giving USA Foundation and the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, Giving USA 2019: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2018 (executive summary) found that total giving in 2018, adjusted for inflation, fell 1.7 percent on a year-over-year basis, with an increase in giving by foundations and corporations offset by a decline in individual giving. The report's authors suggest that the sharp year-end decline in the stock market as well as the changed tax policy environment, including a doubling of the standard deduction, likely had a dampening effect on giving. Various studies suggest that, as a result of the change, the number of households that itemized their deductions may have dropped from more than 45 million in 2016 to between 16 million and 20 million in 2018.
According to the report, giving by living individuals fell 1.1 percent on a year-over-year basis (down 3.4 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars), to an estimated $292.09 billion; grantmaking by foundations jumped 7.3 percent (4.7 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars), to a record $75.86 billion; corporate giving rose 5.4 percent (2.9 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars), to $20.05 billion; and bequests remained flat (down 2.3 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars), at $39.71 billion. Based on data provided by Candid (formerly the Foundation Center), the report also found that grantmaking by community foundations jumped 10.2 percent, grantmaking by operating foundations rose 4.9 percent, and grantmaking by independent foundations increased 7.2 percent; that the share of giving by individuals fell to 68 percent, from 70 percent in 2017; and that the share of giving by foundations increased to 18 percent.
In terms of issue area, giving was up significantly in only two categories — international affairs, up 9.6 percent (7 percent adjusted for inflation), to an estimated $22.88 billion, and environment and animal welfare, up 3.6 percent (1.2 percent adjusted for inflation), to $12.7 billion. Giving to education fell 1.3 percent (3.7 percent adjusted for inflation), to $58.72 billion, while giving to foundations, which saw strong growth in 2017, fell 6.9 percent (9.1 percent adjusted for inflation), to $50.29 billion. Giving also declined for religious organizations ($124.52 billion, down 1.5 percent and an inflation-adjusted 3.9 percent) and public-society benefit organizations ($31.21 billion, down 3.7 percent and 6 percent adjusted for inflation), as were in-kind gifts of medicine made through pharmaceutical companies' operating foundations ($9.06 billion, down 2.6 percent and 4.9 percent adjusted for inflation).
"Giving by foundations represented 18 percent of all charitable dollars given in 2018 — an unprecedented dollar amount and an unprecedented share of total giving. The strong growth in giving by foundations and in giving by corporations helped bolster total giving overall," said Rachel Hutchisson, chair of the Giving Institute and vice president of corporate citizenship and philanthropy for Blackbaud. "These results highlight the importance of institutions to the philanthropic landscape and serve as a reminder that different types of approaches to philanthropy are vital for strengthening and expanding the field, especially in complex years like this one."