America continues to be a markedly generous nation, continuing a charitable giving trend that has increased nearly every year for the last four decades, according to a recently released Annual Report on Philanthropy by the Giving USA Foundation.
United States donors gave a record $358.38 billion to a variety of organizations and causes in 2014, continuing a trend of total charitable giving that has increased (in current dollars) every year since 1974, with the exceptions of 1987, 2008 and 2009. The 2014 total represents a total giving increase of 7.1 percent over the previous year.
Researched by the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University, the report also said that the average American household contributed $2,030 to charitable causes in 2014.
Individual persons contributed the most to charitable causes by far, accounting for 72 percent of the year’s total giving. Foundations contributed 15 percent, bequests accounted for 8 percent and corporations gave 5 percent.
The greatest beneficiaries of all giving in 2014 were religious organizations, which received $114.9 billion, 32 percent of the total (the largest contribution ever to religious organizations). The education subsector received the second largest share: $54.62 billion, 15 percent of the total. Human services and foundations both received about 12 percent of the total, followed by the health subsector, with 8 percent. Other recipients were public-society benefit organizations (7 percent), the arts, culture and humanities (5 percent), international affairs (4 percent), environmental and animal causes (3 percent) and gifts to individuals (2 percent).
The Annual Report on Philanthropy, begun in 1956, is the longest running annual report on U.S. charitable giving.
- Religious organizations received the largest share of charitable dollars in 2014, at 32 percent of the total.
- The education subsector received the second-largest share of charitable dollars in 2014, at 15 percent of the total.
- Human services organizations received 12 percent of total charitable dollars in 2014, ranking third in total gifts received.
- Gifts to independent, community, and operating grantmaking foundations amounted to the fourth-largest share of charitable dollars in 2014, also with 12 percent of the total and just behind human services.
- The health subsector received the fifth-largest share of charitable dollars in 2014, at 8 percent of the total.
- Public-society benefit organizations received 7 percent of total charitable dollars in 2014, ranking sixth in total gifts received.
- The arts, culture, and humanities subsector received the seventh-largest proportion of charitable dollars in 2014, at 5 percent of the total.
- Gifts to the international affairs subsector amounted to the eighth-largest share of charitable dollars in 2014, with 4 percent of the total.
- Environment/animals organizations received 3 percent of total charitable dollars in 2014, ranking ninth in total gifts received.
- Gifts made directly to individuals amounted to 2 percent of total charitable dollars in 2014.