It is always helpful to know where you stand. In the world of charitable giving, the preeminent intel is Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy. For sixty years, this has been the publication reporting on the amount, sources, and uses of charitable giving in the United States. This is valuable data for fundraisers, nonprofit leaders, donors, volunteers, scholars, and others who work in the development sector and count on comprehensive charitable giving data to guide strategy, tell a national story, and, on a basic level, let them know where they stand. We are seeing interesting new trends in how giving relates to the stock market. Traditionally, the ebb and flow of charitable giving was aligned with the GDP. Today, we are seeing giving more closely aligned with trends in the stock market. It is too early to determine if this will stick, but it could be significant and will be interesting to watch and experience over time.
Who is giving? For the first time ever, charitable giving exceeded the $400 billion mark in 2017 for a total of $410.02 billion giving in the United States. Seventy percent and $286.65 billion comes from individuals. This is a 5.2 percent increase over the year before. Giving by foundations increased by 6.0 percent, while bequests totaled an estimated $35.70 billion in 2017, increasing 2.3 percent from 2016. Giving by corporations is estimated to have had the largest increase at 8.0 percent in 2017 totaling $20.77 billion.
Where is it going? Second to religion, education is the largest subsector to receive a share of charitable giving in the United States representing 14 percent of the total pie and $58.90 billion. The six largest sub-sectors (in order: religion, education, human services, foundations, health, and public-society benefit) grew, but growth rates ranged widely from 2.9 to 15.5 percent. Giving to foundations was at the top with 15.5 percent in 2017. Giving to the arts was the second fastest growing subsector with an 8.7 percent increase over the previous year to a total of $19.51 billion in 2017.
Where does Bush stand? Similar to the national trends, the 2017-2018 was a year of giving exceeding the previous year’s totals. For the first time, the Annual Fund reached beyond the $1 million mark and Celebrate Bush tipped over the $500,000 mark in gross earnings. The sources of giving track with national averages as well with individual giving making up 91 percent of total giving. A trend we are seeing is an increase in giving through donor advised funds (DAF’s). Matching funds or gifts through corporations has also increased 52 percent for a total of $170,000.
More and more members of the Bush community are having conversations about their family’s values when it comes to philanthropy. They are developing family philanthropic mission statements that guide their giving and increases impact. With this level of sophistication, we anticipate even more targeted giving. For example, last year’s survey showed that alumni’s highest priority is to give to financial aid at The Bush School. This is a strong and positive statement about the character of our alumni and how they value their Bush education.