Charitable Giving Up 9.3 Percent in 2014, 'Atlas of Giving' Says

Total charitable giving in 2014 increased 9.3 percent on a year-over-year basis, to an estimated $456.73 billion, a new report from the Atlas of Giving finds.

Based on preliminary data, the report, U.S. Charitable Giving: 2014 Results & Initial 2015 Forecast (16 pages, PDF), found that individuals accounted for 74 percent of total giving in 2014, or $339.24 billion, up from $311.63 billion in 2013; foundations accounted for 14 percent, or $65.45 billion, up from $58.06 billion; corporations accounted for 5 percent, or $21.82 billion, up from $20.18 billion; and bequests accounted for 7 percent, or $30.22 billion, up from $27.93 billion.

The Atlas also estimates that giving to religious institutions reached an estimated $152.6 billion in 2014, accounting, once again, for the largest share of overall giving (33 percent), even though its 6.4 percent year-over-year increase was the smallest among the issue areas tracked by the survey. Giving to education (17 percent of the total) increased 11.5 percent, to $76.3 billion, followed by human needs/disaster services (12 percent), up 12.7 percent, to $56.09 billion; and health (8 percent), up 8.1 percent to $38.02 billion.

The report, which attributes the healthy increase in giving to an improving economy, the growth of donor-advised funds, and new and more effective fundraising techniques, predicts that total giving in 2015 will fall to $442.08 billion, a year-over-year decline of 3.2 percent, due in part to an anticipated stock market correction, rising interest rates, and stagnant wages. Some fundraisers are skeptical. "Giving was healthy in 2014, and 2015 is looking strong," Barlow Mann, a planned-giving consultant, told the Chronicle of Philanthropy. "It's too early to predict. You might as well predict the weather a year in advance."

"U.S. Charitable Giving: 2014 Results & Initial 2015 Forecast." Atlas of Giving Report 01/25/2015. Holly Hall. "Atlas of Giving Says Charitable Donations Grew 9% Last Year, to $457-Billion." Chronicle of Philanthropy 01/28/2015.