The Giving USA Foundation has conducted its annual survey determining sources of donations in the USA for more than 50 years. Below are a few of this year’s findings. For more information or to order a copy of the full report, visit

Since the initial survey in 1954, only three years have seen a decline in total annual giving (1987, 2008 and 2009). In 2017, total annual giving rose 5.2% to more than $400 billion with 79% of gifts coming from individuals, 5% from corporations and 16% from foundations. Overall online giving grew 23% compared with 15% in 2016 and monthly renewal giving saw an increase of 40%. Giving from all three sources increased, and Family Foundations was the sub-sector that saw the largest increase in giving at 15.5% growth. Religion was the sector with the most donations – about 31% of the total. Education came second with 14% and Human Services third with 12%. Giving to the arts was the second-fastest growing subsector with an 8.7% increase over the previous year. To be successful, nonprofit organizations need to calibrate their efforts to seek gifts primarily from individuals as they still are the largest and most stable source of charitable gifts for nonprofit organizations.

Gifts by Individuals
Fewer American households are donating to charity, though the numbers held steady among certain groups such as wealthier and older Americans. However, the gifts coming in are larger, making the total amount raised increase in recent years. The report reinforced the importance of paying attention to mid-level donors, suggesting that organizations that spend time nurturing donor relationships of mid-level donors will see the rewards of sustainable donation revenue. Charitable giving by bequest is estimated to have increased 2.3% in 2017. Intentional strategies should be developed to encourage not only major donors, but annual donors to consider bequests.

Gifts by Foundations
Grantmaking by foundations increased 6% from 2016. Giving grew by all three types of foundations including independent (4.9%), operating (6.2%), and community (11%). The political environment is shaping funding considerations; 80% of foundation leaders agree that philanthropy will be more important to society than ever.

Gifts by Corporations
Charitable giving by corporations increased an estimated 8% (including cash, grants, in-kind contributions, and gifts made by corporate foundations). The report found that corporate giving spiked in disaster relief and that 63% of U.S. citizens look to companies to take the lead on such issues.

This summary is just a brief glimpse at the extensive data Giving USA delivers each year. Please visit to learn more.

Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2017 (2018). Chicago: Giving USA Foundation