Americans Are in a Charitable
Giving Mood

Charitable Giving Rises by 7.1 Percent 

It’s heartening to see that as Americans have been recovering from the Great Recession, they’ve been helping the less fortunate rather than just spending the money on themselves, says a recent report from Forbes magazine.

Charitable giving in the United States rose by an impressive 7.1 percent last year, according to the new report, Giving USA 2015, published by the Giving USA Foundation and researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

The $358.38 billion donated in 2014 surpassed the pre-recession peak of (an inflation-adjusted) $355.17 billion in 2007, hitting a 60-year high. And giving by individuals—who made 72 percent of all donations—was up 5.7 percent, to $258.51 billion.

The researchers credit the increase to last year’s improving housing, labor and financial markets. 

Giving USA doesn’t break down the numbers by age, but Boomers and older households do appear very committed to philanthropy. However, there is concern that many people are entering the retirement phases of their lives and emerging from various shocks from the recession.

Not every type of charity saw an increase in donations last year: Gifts to the international affairs category actually fell by 2 percent in 2014. The chief explanation: There were no huge natural disasters overseas in 2014, like the Indonesian tsunami of 2004 or Haiti’s earthquake in 2010. 

The outlook for 2015? That depends on who you ask. The Philanthropy Outlook forecasts a 4.8 percent rise in charitable giving this year. That’s less than in 2014, because its model factors in modest U.S. economic growth in 2015. But rival Atlas of Giving describes its early forecast as “bleak at best,” with a possible 3.2 percent decline in charitable giving this year. This organization predicts a stock market correction, an interest rate increase, and a weak Eurozone economy that will negatively impact the ability of U.S. corporations to make charitable gifts.


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