According to the annual Giving USA report on charitable donations in the United States, in 2014, for the first time in seven year, donations in this country exceeded pre-recession rates. In 2014, adjusting for inflation, Americans gave $358.38 billion.
That was a 7.1% increase over 2013, and giving was up in several categories. Individual giving increased by 5.7%, which may not sound like a lot, but was responsible for 58% of the growth of giving in 2014. Foundation giving increased by 8.2%, while corporate giving saw the largest single increase, with 13.6% more than in 2013.
The report tracks a number of different charitable categories, including religion, education, human services, health, arts and humanities, environment, public-society benefit, foundations, and international affairs. Currently, and historically, the frontrunners for amount of donations received are religious organizations, which made $114.9 billion in 2014. Despite these big numbers, religious donations are actually decreasing, as other kinds of donations increase. The report notes that this is a byproduct of fewer Americans identifying with a particular religion, or donating at houses of worship. The remaining faithful seem to be contributing their fair share though.
Why have donations seen such an increase? The report maintains that it is due to the generally healthier American economy. As the economy improves and unemployment rates come down, more Americans are able to give, and it seems like they’re willing to do that. It stands to reason that the wealthiest Americans, who have traditionally dominated charitable giving, are giving the most, but they’re certainly not alone.
Beyond the obvious benefit of having more money with which to accomplish their goals, the increase in donations helps charities do their work better. Namely, as the non-profit sector seems to have fully recovered from the recession, charities and non-profits can finally start focusing more of their energy on using that money, instead of spending all their time getting it in the first place.