Giving Flat in First Half of 2016, Forecast for Year at 2.1 Percent

Charitable giving in the United States during the first half of 2016 was essentially flat at $241.3 billion, up only 0.9 percent over the same period last year, a report from the Atlas of Giving finds.

The Dallas-based forecasting group's July 2016 Report (15 pages, PDF) found that donors, faced with an uncertain economic situation and an upcoming presidential election, were not particularly eager to make significant new philanthropic commitments. To date in 2016, giving to religious institutions — which typically accounts for nearly a third of total annual giving in the U.S. — is down 1.1 percent, while giving to environmental causes is up 3.9 percent, although such giving comprises only 2 percent of the total. The report also found that grant dollars awarded by foundations rose 3.3 percent over the same period last year, due largely to robust returns from their investment portfolios over the last three to four years.

The report forecasts that total giving in 2016 will come in around $488.3 billion, an increase of 2.1 percent over last year — and an improvement over the 1.4 percent increase projected in May, though still lower than the group's initial forecast of 2.6 percent in January.

"Atlas of Giving Monthly Report: July 2016 Report." Atlas of Giving Report 07/26/2016.