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BlogUnderstanding Philanthropic Trends: An In-depth Look at the Giving USA 2023 Report

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Fundraisers reviewing the Giving USA report 2023

Understanding Philanthropic Trends: An In-depth Look at the Giving USA 2023 Report

Giving USA LogoThe Giving USA Report 2023 offers a comprehensive analysis of philanthropic trends and highlights the evolving landscape of charitable giving in the United States. The 2023 report sheds light on the overall state of philanthropy, the shifts in giving patterns, and the factors influencing charitable giving. The key findings and trends outlined in the report offer a thorough understanding of the current fundraising environment.

A Banner Year for Charitable Giving

In 2023, charitable giving in the United States reached a remarkable $557.16 billion. This figure represents an all-time high in current dollars, showcasing the generosity of Americans even in the face of economic uncertainties. However, it is essential to note that when adjusted for inflation, 2021 remains the best year of giving on record. The 2023 report highlights the commitment of donors to support various causes despite economic challenges.

Shifting Sources of Giving

Individuals’ Giving Declines

One of the most notable trends in the 2023 report is the decline in individual giving as a percentage of total charitable contributions. In 1983, individuals accounted for 82% of all donations. However, by 2023, this figure had decreased to 67%. This decline suggests a shift in the landscape of philanthropy, where other sources of giving are becoming increasingly significant.

Substantial Growth in Foundation Giving

While individual giving has declined, foundation giving has experienced substantial growth. In 1983, foundations contributed 6% of the total charitable donations. By 2023, this figure had risen to 19%. The increased role of foundations in philanthropy indicates a growing reliance on institutional donors and highlights the importance of strategic, organized giving in addressing social issues.

Bequests and Corporate Giving On the Rise

Bequests, or donations made through wills and estates, are on the rise. The wealth of older adults grew between 2019 and 2023, leading to an increase in bequest giving. Additionally, corporate giving has seen an upward trend. Although the percentage of corporate profits allocated to philanthropy has decreased from 2-3% in the 1980s to 1% today, the overall increase in corporate profits has resulted in higher corporate giving.

Sector-Specific Trends in Philanthropy

Sector-specific Trends in Philanthropy from the Giving USA 2023 report.

The Rise of Human Services Giving

One of the most significant sector-specific trends highlighted in the 2023 report is the growth in giving to human services. In 1983, human services received 6% of total charitable donations. By 2023, this figure had risen to 14%, surpassing education for the first time. This shift reflects an increasing awareness and commitment to addressing immediate social needs, such as poverty alleviation, healthcare, and disaster relief.

Education and Arts See Growth

Education and arts were the sectors that saw the most substantial growth in gift recipients from 2022 to 2023. Educational institutions have increasingly become a focal point for donors, recognizing the long-term impact of investing in education. Similarly, the arts have gained prominence with donors acknowledging the importance of cultural enrichment and creative expression in society.

Decline in Giving to Religion and International Affairs

While most sectors experienced growth in charitable giving from 2019 to 2023, adjusted for inflation, religion and international affairs were notable exceptions. The proportion of donations to religious organizations has decreased significantly, from 63% in 1983 to 24% in 2023. This decline reflects broader societal changes including decreasing religious affiliation and shifts in donor priorities.

The Growing Influence of Wealthy Donors

The 2023 report highlights a concerning trend: the decline of the everyday donor. While charitable giving remains robust, increasing donations come from wealthy individuals. This shift raises questions about the democratization of philanthropy and the potential implications for nonprofit organizations that rely on a broad base of small donors.

Economic Factors & Inflation’s Effect on Philanthropy

Charitable giving is closely linked to economic factors. The growth in individual giving can be partially attributed to an 8.1% increase in disposable income (3.8% when adjusted for inflation). Additionally, the S&P 500 experienced a significant rise of 24%, which positively influenced giving from individuals with investment portfolios.

Inflation has a significant impact on charitable organizations and nonprofits. Although people are still giving generously, inflation affects how organizations spend these donations. The 2023 report indicates a 2.1% inflation-adjusted decline in charitable giving from the previous year, highlighting the challenges nonprofits face in maintaining their operations and services amidst rising costs.

Understanding these philanthropic trends and their implications is a valuable resource for anyone involved in philanthropy and fundraising. If you need help navigating the complexities of charitable giving, reach out to a fundraising consultant at AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising.

Written by:

Melissa provides fundraising counsel for AMPERAGE’s nonprofit clients, leading feasibility studies and providing solutions that drive successful fundraising campaign results. A Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE), she uses her experience and extensive skill set to continually advance her fundraising practices and develop campaign-specific strategies, materials and training to help clients reach their campaign goals and advance their mission. Melissa has vast experience working in the nonprofit sector, having served in development and leadership roles with Sisters of Mercy and the Alzheimer’s Association. In addition, she has served as a volunteer and board member with local nonprofits, such as the Catherine McAuley Center. Faith-based organizations and causes are of particular interest to Melissa. Melissa moves the needle by always looking for new opportunities and ways to improve professionally. She is currently president of the Eastern Iowa Planned Giving Council and a past president of the Association of Fundraising Professionals-Eastern Iowa Chapter. Melissa holds a Master of Strategic Leadership degree from Mount Mercy University. This busy professional, wife and mother enjoys sports and live music in her free time. A fan of Cubs baseball and Iowa Hawkeye football, Melissa and family enjoy football tailgating, where she’s known for her breakfast burritos. She enjoys the local band scene but says a Foo Fighters concert is her all-time favorite.