The annual report by Giving USA is out for 2017, and you can obtain it here. Every year, the nonprofit sector waits for this important report.

Here are some of the key findings based on reporting from the Chronicle of Philanthropy:

  • 2016 was the third year of growth in fundraising.
  • Fundraising grew by 1.4 percent in 2016 over 2015.
  • Philanthropic giving is now at an astounding $390 billion.
  • Foundation giving increased by about 2 percent to $59.3 billion.
  • Corporate giving increased by approximately the same to $18.6 billion. (As noted in the Chronicle of Philanthropy article that you can find here, corporate giving, in general, is evolving with an increased focus on corporate sponsorships and CSR marketing.)
  • Philanthropic giving represents 2.1 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.

As usual, individuals crushed it with philanthropic giving.

But, here’s why you should keep an eye on how things may be changing.

  1. The Trump administration is seeking to change tax law. If they do and they increase the standard deduction and eliminate the estate tax and, giving will likely decline. Remember, millionaires and billionaires give a lot of money, and while taxes are not the key driver in giving, the way the tax law has been structured up to this point has enabled the U.S. to become the philanthropic powerhouse that it is on our planet.
  2. As noted above, corporate giving is evolving. Corporations are aggressively looking for a win/win situation with their corporate social responsibility. Reports are that corporate giving teams have grown and more of these groups are saying that their CEO’s has become much more involved in philanthropy. The reason is simple––it makes financial sense for companies to be good corporate citizens.
  3. Individual giving is an extraordinary opportunity for nonprofits. As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, in the old days, peer-to-peer fundraising meant one millionaire asked his buddy and fellow millionaire for a substantial major gift for charity. Now, advances in technology and social media have allowed peer-to-peer fundraising to become democratized. Many nonprofits use individual donor fundraising pages, and now millions of people are asking their friends for small gifts of $5, $10 or more.
  4. For many years, a lot of money went to religious causes. They still get the largest slice of the pie with over $122 billion going to religious charities. However, the growth has been flat. In the most recent report, environmental and animal welfare organizations experienced the greatest uptick with an increase of 6 percent over the preceding year. I think this is going to continue to grow.

The nonprofit sector is evolving, and if you look at it from a macro perspective, you get a chance to see that technology, social media, globalization, corporate interests, and the younger generations (who always have different priorities than their predecessors) are shifting how philanthropy continues to evolve.

I’m a big believer that more big changes are coming––things we probably cannot yet envision. One element that is a constant is that Americans care about philanthropy, and it’s growing. Social responsibility is not just something we talk about, but a lot of us walk the walk.


Author of “Not Your Father’s Charity: How to Dominate Your Fundraising to Create Your Success” (Free Digital Download) 

© 2017 Wayne Elsey and Not Your Father’s Charity. All Rights Reserved.