Americans break record for charitable donations for 2nd year in a row

Posted June 20, 2016

American individuals, corporations, foundations and estates donated an estimated $373 billion to charity in 2015, making it the most charitable year ever, according to a study by Giving USA, and the second straight year people donated more than the previous year.

“It’s heartening that people really do want to make a difference, and they’re supporting the causes that matter to them,” said Giving USA Foundation Chairman W. Keith Curtis in a press release Tuesday. “Americans are embracing philanthropy at a higher level than ever before.”

The study found that donations are coming in from millions of people making small donations, rather than from the wealthy giving larger amounts. Individuals gave nearly $264.58 billion in donations, a 3.7 percent increase from 2014.

An increase in microdonations — as well as opportunities to donate online — has kept the amount of money donated to charitable organizations steadily rising since the recession. The study reported an overall 4 percent increase in donations since 2014, when inflation is factored in.

Foundations gave the second most with $58.46 billion, a 6.3 percent increase from 2014. Charitable bequests, or donations by people who died, saw a 1.9 percent increase with a total of $31.76 billion in donations, and corporations gave $18.45 billion, up 3.8 percent from 2014.

Among the recipients of donations, religious organizations dominated, receiving 32 percent, or $119.3 billion, in 2015 — a 2.6 percent increase from 2014.

International affairs, however, saw the biggest increase in collected donations from year to year at 17.4 percent, or $15.75 billion.

The increase in donations to international charities comes after two years of steady decline. Giving USA attributed the rise to an increased number of international charities, as well as more focused efforts on resolving international crises.

Other remaining categories, including education, human services, health, public-society benefit, the arts and the environment, all saw a spike in donations from the previous year as well.

Direct donations to foundations was the only category to see a decline in donations, which Giving USA attributes to a decline in large gifts and donations from previous years.

Highlights of the report are available for free, or the full report for purchase, on Giving USA’s website.

Email:; Twitter: @sarapweber


Please with your account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all