Giving USA 2016 was released this week and found that overall U.S. charitable giving from all sources—including individuals, bequests, foundations and corporations—reached an estimated $373.25 billion in 2015. This was an all-time high for the second consecutive year.
This increase held for both foundation and corporate contributions. Giving from foundations, which made up 16% of total giving, increased 6.5 percent over 2014 (6.3 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars). This compared to a 10.1 percent change in giving from 2013 to 2014. Giving to foundations, however, declined in 2015 by 3.8 percent.
Giving from corporations, including grants from corporate foundations, grew an estimated 3.9 percent (3.8 percent when inflation adjusted) from 2014 to 2015 to reach an estimated $18.45 billion. Corporate giving in both 2014 and 2015 was estimated to be 0.8 percent of corporate pre-tax profits, which also rose 3.3 percent in 2015.
A number of economic factors affect giving this (and every) year including 3.5 percent increase in the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and a 0.8 percent decline in inflation-adjusted dollars between 2014 and 2015. Since the end of the Great Recession, overall giving, as well as giving by foundations and corporations has increased in both real and inflation-adjusted dollars, and this past year matched or exceeded previous inflation-adjusted highs. Giving to foundations (as well as to three other charitable subsectors defined by Giving USA) have not surpassed their prior peaks. Total giving as a percentage of GDP in 2015 was 2.1 percent, a number that has not risen above 2.2 percent over the past forty years.
For more analysis of foundation investment data, the Council’s 2015 Council on Foundations-Commonfund Study of Investments for Foundations (CCSF) will be released this summer. The 2014 study is available now.