10 Takeaways from Giving USA 2018 Report (for year 2017)






Giving USA, recently released their Giving USA 2018 Annual Report on Philanthropy for the year 2017.  Giving USA, the longest-running and most comprehensive report of its kind in America, is published by Giving USA Foundation, a public service initiative of The Giving Institute. It is researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI. 

Here are some of our takeaways...

Graphics provided by Giving USA and NonProfit Quarterly.

Graphics provided by Giving USA and NonProfit Quarterly.

1. 2017 total giving hit a record-breaking year!

2017 Total Giving.jpg

We reached an all-time high inflation adjusted level of $410 billion.  Giving increased by 5.2% (3% adjusted for inflation).  Wow!

  • Bonus: Historically, it has taken less than a decade to break the $100 billion mark.  However, it took nearly a full decade to reach the $400 billion mark.  Could this have been attributed to the time it took to bounce back from the recession?  Seems likely, though other factors may have contributed as well.

2. Who donated?  A breakdown of $410 billion

2017 Giving Breakdown.png




Individuals came in first at 70% ($286.65 billion), followed by Foundations at 16% ($66.9 billion) and Bequest at 9% ($35.7 billion).  Last were Corporations at 5% (20.77 billion).

3. Giving increased for all donor types

Percent Growth by Donor Type.jpg
  • Giving by individuals increased 5.2% (3% adjusted for inflation)
  • Giving by bequest increased 2.3% (0.2% adjusted for inflation)
  • Giving by foundations grew 6.0% (3.8% adjusted for inflation)
  • Giving by corporations increased 8.0% (5.7% adjusted for inflation)

4. Corporate giving had the highest percentage increase out of all giving sources

As illustrated above, corporate giving experienced the highest percentage increase of all giving sources for 2017.

Corporate pre-tax profits play a major role in how much they give annually.  With the 2018 tax reform and a decrease in corporate taxes, it will be interesting to see what unfolds for corporate giving in 2018... 

5. Historical giving trends from 1978-2017

  • Individuals have declined from 83% to 71%
  • Foundations increased from 5% to 16%
  • Bequests nominal increase from 7% to 9%
  • Corporations consistently stayed at 5%
  • Bonus: It appears that individuals have become more strategic in their giving and are shifting their strategies towards foundations and bequests.
Historical Giving Trends.png

6. 8 out of 9 recipient subsectors saw increases in giving

All recipient subsectors saw an increase in giving except for international affairs.  The decrease in growth for international affairs subsector may have been attributed to resources allocated towards domestic natural disasters in 2017. 

% Growth By Subsectors.png

7. In addition, the sector of the philanthropy that saw the biggest increase is Foundations. That was a significant increase!

The 15.5% increase in Foundation giving may be due to healthy growth in the stock market and the transfer of wealth, as boomers utilize foundation gifts strategically in the sale of businesses and in estate plans.

8. Historical recipient trends from 1978-2017

  • Religion declined from 53% to 32%
  • Education slight increase from 12% to 14%
  • Human services slight increase from 10% to 12%
  • Foundations slight increase 6% to 11%
  • Health slight decrease from 10% to 9%
Historical Recipient Trends.jpg

9. Trending…Donor advised funds (DAF) are on the rise!

Donor Advised Funds.jpg



As the chart illustrates above, donor advised funds are on the rise!  

10. Average contributions by type of recipient organization for DAF compared to overall USA giving in 2017

DAF Giving V USA Giving 2017.png

Most notable: The highest DAF giving went towards Education at 29%. Public society benefit was 16%, followed by Religion at 11%.  Whereas for total USA giving, Religion came in first at 31%, followed by Education 14%. Third most funded was Human services at 12%.

What do you think?  Do you agree?  What were some of your takeaways from Giving USA's 2018 Report?