On average, Americans gave over a billion dollars a day to charity in 2015 with donations hitting a record setting $373.25 billion in 2015, according to Giving USA 2016: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2015.
This is symbolic of a society where giving is solidly rooted in a culture that values philanthropy. Positive economic growth and low unemployment rates have helped giving climb in the US, said Richard Tollefson, Jr., of the Phoenix Philanthropy Group while unveiling the Giving USA 2016 report.
Most giving came from individual donors contributing around 87% of total charitable contributions. This included direct giving, bequests, donor advised funds and investments in individual foundations.
The numbers shed some stunning data. Today, a mega gift in the US is a whopping $300 million. And, technology entrepreneurs gave 85% of all the mega gifts that came in 2015.
Corporate giving was at an all-time high, forming 5% of total giving while foundation giving formed 16% of total giving.
Religion topped Americans’ preferred cause with around 32 percent of all gifts going to religious causes. However, religion as a favorite cause has taken a steep decline compared to almost 51% in 1975. Education (15%) and human services (12%) were other causes that Americans favored in their charitable giving in 2015.
Giving now forms 2.1 percent of America’s GDP estimated at 18 trillion dollars. The upbeat figures project a stable future for philanthropy; however, giving is becoming more precise. Shifts in attitudes and culture are impacting philanthropy in the US and for instance there has been a sustained increase in giving over the last six years toward animal and environmental causes.
Experts like Tollefson suggest that nonprofit organizations need to distinguish themselves to be a favorite charity of choice to select groups of donors interested in investing in them. Charities need to ask what value they can give to donors and must convey a sense of urgency and need.
The ultra-rich are also changing their forms of giving and some like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan are investing in social impact business models than directly giving to charity. The report is available at: http://givingusa.org/
Founder of Lettersnatcher.com, Sarat Pratapchandran’s career spans philanthropy, corporate social responsibility & content management. A graduate from Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, he worked as a journalist in India, the Middle East and the United States and now advises and mentors individuals at kanthari, an international organization focused on creating social visionaries around the world. Sarat is also on a personal mission to help 50 orphans by age 50.