Key Highlights of the 2017 Giving USA Report

The recently published 2017 Giving USA report, gives a detailed account of philanthropy in the United States for 2016.

With its 61-year history, the annual report is the longest running report on philanthropy in the United States and is widely acclaimed as the most comprehensive and rigorously researched resource on US charitable giving. Here are 5 key highlights about US philanthropy:

Rise in total giving

Total giving rose from $373.25 billion in 2015 to $390.05 billion in 2016. This 4.5 percent increment is attributed to a rise in giving across all nine major philanthropy subsectors, making 2016 the sixth time in the past 40 years that this has occurred. The nine categories are religion ($122.94 billion); education ($59.77 billion); human services ($46.80 billion); giving to foundations ($40.56 billion); health ($33.14 billion); public-society benefit ($29.89 billion); arts, culture and humanities ($18.21 billion); international affairs ($22.03 billion); and environment and animals ($7.12 billion).

Religion leads the way

Giving to religion (defined as giving specific to congregations, denominations, missionary societies, and religious media) is 32 percent of total US charitable giving. Giving to religion increased by 3 percent with $122.94 billion in contributions  given across all faith traditions in 2016. Nevertheless, all other philanthropy subsectors grew faster than religion. So while religion is the largest subsector, it lags behind in growth compared to the other sectors.

Individuals receive less

Giving to individuals fell to $7.12 billion in 2016 with the decline estimated at 2.5 percent. Giving to individuals represents 2% of the share of total charitable giving in America. According to the report, the bulk of these donations are in-kind gifts of medications to patients in need, made through the Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs) of pharmaceutical companies’ operating foundations.

Giving by individuals soar

In terms of source of contribution, the largest percentage of giving, 72 percent of total giving, came from individuals in 2016. Giving by individuals grew by 3.9 percent between 2015 and 2016 and is estimated at $281.86 billion. Research conducted by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and other philanthropy researchers demonstrated that aggregate giving trends in America are influenced by large-scale socio-economic factors.

Giving by bequest falls

Giving by bequest fell significantly in 2016, following two years of strong growth in 2014 (15.5 percent) and 2015 (2.1 percent). Giving by bequest totaled $30.36 billion in 2016, a 9 percent decline from 2015. Research has shown that gifts in the form of bequests frequently fluctuate from year to year and are less influenced by economic factors.

Giving USA is produced and released by Giving USA Foundation and Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. The full report contains detailed information on who does the giving and how, and discusses at length giving towards each philanthropy sector. For the full report, visit Giving USA.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x