US Charitable Giving Expected to Grow by 4.8% This Year

Philanthropy Outlook imageCharitable giving in the United States is expected to grow by 4.8 percent in 2015 and by an additional 4.9 percent in 2016, according to The Philanthropy Outlook, a new report researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

The outlook projects that the expected growth of total giving in each of those years will exceed the estimated annualized average rate of growth in total giving in the years following the Great Recession (3.1 percent) and the estimated long-term average for the 40-year trend in total giving for 1973-2013 (3.8 percent).

The Philanthropy Outlook provides data for predicted year-to-year growth rates in U.S. philanthropy for 2015 and 2016, including overall giving and giving by individuals/households, foundations, estates and corporations. It includes context and explanations of the economic factors and conditions that will significantly influence the predicted changes in giving. It will be updated annually.

Among the key results:

  • Contributions from individuals/households, estates, corporations and foundations are all expected to increase in 2015 and 2016.
  • Individual/household giving is predicted to increase by 4.4 percent in 2015 and by 4.1 percent in 2016. It includes giving by both households that itemize charitable deductions on tax returns and those that do not itemize.
  • Foundation giving is projected to rise by 7.2 percent in 2015 and by 6.7 percent in 2016.
  • Giving by estates is predicted to increase by 2.7 percent in 2015 and by 6.3 percent in 2016.
  • Corporate giving is expected to grow by 6.0 percent in 2015 and by 4.8 percent in 2016.

“While the economic and financial sector has seen greater than normal economic volatility in recent years, the projected growth in the overall economy suggests a more stable and more positive environment for philanthropy,” said Una Osili, Ph.D., director of research for the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. “The report supports emerging evidence that improvements in the economic environment will have implications for donors and nonprofits. Importantly, though, increasing philanthropic giving will require that nonprofits have not only a positive economic environment but also a strong, clear case for support and thoughtful cultivation of donor relationships.”

According to the report, economic factors that are expected to have the most significant, positive impact on giving in 2015 and 2016 include projected growth in the S&P 500 Index, U.S. Gross Domestic Product, household net worth and personal income, among other factors. However, the report stresses that certain conditions, such as changes in tax policy or significant changes in the world or U.S. economy could affect the predictions for giving.

The full report and a technical appendix on the methodology are at