This post was originally featured on The Huffington Post: Impact

According to Giving USA, total charitable giving in the U.S. reached $373.25 billion in 2015, a 4.1% increase in current dollars and a 4.0% increase in inflation-adjusted dollars. Approximately 71% of those donations came from individuals.

Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy is the longest running annual report on U.S. charitable giving and estimates sources of giving and amounts received by type of organization. The report was established in 1956 by the American Association of Fundraising Counsel, now The Giving Institute, and is made possible by contributions from The Giving Institute member firms, foundations, and other donors. Giving USA is researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

This is the sixth consecutive year of increases in giving, a period of growth that began in 2010. But there are some important changes in the data worth noting. Let’s dig into the detail behind some of these findings.

Who is Giving
Individuals gave 71% of all the charitable giving in 2015 and their donations grew by 3.8% compared to 2014. Giving by foundations grew 6.5% and donations by corporations grew by 3.9%. There was a significant drop in bequests in 2015. These donations were up 2.1% compared to a growth rate of 27.8% in 2014.

The percent of overall giving from individuals dropped from 72% to 71% in 2015. Giving by foundations, which includes grants made by independent, community, and operating foundations, grew from 15% to 16% percent of all gifts made in 2015.

Giving USA

Where Giving Goes
Giving USA also reports that 70% of all charitable giving in the United States goes to religious organizations, education institutions, human services nonprofits, and gifts to foundations. The remaining 30% of giving goes to heath, public and society benefit, arts, culture, and humanities, international affairs, environment and animal welfare, and gifts to individuals.

In 2015, International Affairs organizations grew by 17.5%, the largest of any group. This is in large part to the tremendous amount of giving towards the Nepal Earthquake in 2015. Gifts to Foundations actually saw a decline of 3.8% in 2015 and this was the only group that experienced a drop in giving.

The two year cumulative change in giving, across both 2014 and 2015, shows that arts, culture, and humanities organizations have grown the most with a 20% growth rate. That’s followed by education nonprofits at 16.4% and environment and animals organizations at 16% growth. Giving to foundations has grown the least over a 2-year time period with 2.8% growth.

Macroeconomic Trends
Charitable giving as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) remained at 2.1% in 2015. Since 1974, this metric has ranged from 1.7% to 2.2%. Total giving as a percentage of GDP was 2.1% for three of the four years between 2012 and 2015.

Disposable income increased 3.7% in 2015, but individual giving as a percentage of disposable personal income remained at 2%. Since the 1970s, individual giving as a percentage of disposable income has been as high as 2.4% in 2000 and as low as 1.7% in 1995.

Looking Ahead
The new trends reported by Giving USA are helpful to understand changes in the nonprofit giving landscape. Giving continues to grow in a post-recession environment. Some sectors are experiencing some change in giving patterns. Changes in both who is giving and the organizations receiving the donations is something to continue monitoring.

Another resource for nonprofits to use to understand the latest giving trends is The Blackbaud Index, which reports on both overall charitable giving trends and online giving results on a monthly basis. Through April 2016, overall giving is up 1.6% on a year-over-year basis and online giving is up 9.2% for the same time period. This is based on an analysis of $19.7 billion in charitable giving data from nonprofit organizations and $2 billion in online giving.

To get the complete Giving USA 2016 report please visit:


Steve MacLaughlin is a Director of Analytics at Blackbaud, the leading provider of technology and services to the nonprofit sector. Steve has spent 20+ years driving innovation with a broad range of companies, government institutions, and nonprofit organizations.

MacLaughlin has been featured as a fundraising and nonprofit expert in many mainstream publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, USA Today, The NonProfit Times, Bloomberg, and has appeared on NPR.

He is a frequent speaker at events including the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP), American Marketing Association (AMA), Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), Direct Marketing Fundraisers Association (DMFA), Giving Institute Summer Symposium, National Association of Independent School (NAIS), Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN), Institute of Fundraising National Convention, Civil Society Conference, Resoure Alliance’s Fundraising Online, and a keynote speaker at such events as the Crescendo Practical Planned Giving Conference.

Steve serves on the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) Board of Directors and supports its focus on both the growth and professionalism of the nonprofit technology field as well as building knowledge and information sharing capacity throughout the sector.

He is a frequent blogger, published author of a chapter in the book People to People Fundraising: Social Networking and Web 2.0 for Charities, and is a co-editor of the book Internet Management for Nonprofits: Strategies, Tools & Trade Secrets. His latest book, Data Driven Nonprofits, will be published in September 2016.

Steve earned both his undergraduate degree and a Master of Science degree in Interactive Media from Indiana University.

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