Giving USA is the longest running annual philanthropy report published by the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University. This report is trusted by nonprofits across the country and helps them make decisions about fundraising for their organizations. It provides important statistical information about the economy, charitable dollars and trends in the nonprofit industry.

Where did the generosity come from?

First, total charitable giving reached $427.71 billion in 2018, a 0.7 percent increase in current dollars and a 1.7 percent decrease in inflation-adjusted dollars from 2018. Secondly, it is very important to understand where the fundraising dollars are coming from. Giving by individuals declined in 2018, comprising less than 70 percent of overall giving for the first time in at least 50 years. Giving by foundations grew by 7.3% and gave 18% of the total dollars. Giving by corporations grew 5.4% and held 5% of the total giving dollars. Lastly, giving by bequest did not change and held 9% of the giving dollars.

Where are all the charitable dollars going?

  • Religion – 29% of total giving and $124.52 billion
  • Education – 14% of total giving and $58.72 billion
  • Human Services – 12% of total giving and $51.54 billion
  • Foundations – 12% of total giving and $50.29 billion
  • Health – 10% of total giving and $40.78 billion
  • Public-Society Benefit – 7% of total giving and $31.21 billion
  • Arts, Culture and Humanities – 5% of total giving and $19.49 billion
  • International Affairs- 5% of total giving and $22.88 billion
  • Environment/Animals – 3% of total giving and $12.70 billion

Next Steps

The Giving USA 2019 report is a great guide for your organization as to what the fundraising trends are. It can help you prioritize your fundraising activities and explore new opportunities. Overall, this statistical information points to the fact that developing authentic relationships with donors and diversifying your fundraising streams are now more important than ever. Three areas where your organization could apply this data in a practical manner:

  1. Explore new ways to engage your existing donors
    a. Let them be a part of the action – identify new ways to share the story
    b. Utilize volunteers in their cultivation and engagement
    c. Implement/continue mission-centric fundraising events
    d. Donors who list an organization in their estate plans are more likely to also give a gift to the organization while living.
  2. Find new and younger donors – These next generations (Millennials and Gen Z) have a greater sense of urgency in their giving; they are using their resources to make a difference at earlier stages of life than their predecessors.  (p.85)
    a. Talk to the children of your major gift donors (if appropriate)
    b. Hire a fundraising employee focused on younger people
    c. Brainstorm ways to engage with younger donors – volunteer opportunities are an important element
  3. Pursue foundation giving
    a. Continue relationship building with local foundations – deepen the relationship with more than one representative where possible
    b. Identify new foundation prospects and utilize volunteers to initiate the conversation
    c. Foundations are increasingly open to making general operating support grants – identify ways to move restricted grant support to general operating support. Have conversations with funders about moving toward this model.
    d. Be transparent about your finances.  Make sure your funders understand the true cost of your work.  (p.103)

To purchase Giving USA 2019: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2018, visit this link.

Written by Kennari Intern, Jared Schmatz