Generous times: National report shows record-breaking charitable giving in 2016

Posted at 4:00 AM, Jun 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-13 04:00:32-04

CINCINNATI -- In 2016, the nation faced a divisive presidential election, a water crisis and a horrific nightclub shooting, discovered new planets and endured a major hurricane -- but still found time to be charitable.

America’s individuals, estates, foundations and corporations contributed an estimated $390 billion to U.S. charities in 2016, according to "Giving USA 2017: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2016."

According to a news release, the total giving rose 2.7 percent in current dollars -- 1.4 adjusted for inflation -- compared with the revised estimate of $379.89 billion given in 2015.

The total is a record for the third year in a row.

RELATED: National report shows record-breaking charitable giving in 2015

Giving USA is the longest and most comprehensive report of its kind. The Giving USA Foundation, a public service initiative of The Giving Institute, publishes the annual report. the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy is responsible for the research and writing.

“This report tells us that Americans remained generous in 2016, despite it being a year punctuated by economic and political uncertainty,” Aggie Sweeney, CFRE and chair of Giving USA Foundation, said in the news release. “We saw growth in every major sector, indicating the resilience of philanthropy and diverse motivations of donors.”

Last year saw a “democratization of philanthropy,” according to Patrick M. Rooney Ph.D., associate dean for academic affairs and research at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy: Individuals had the highest increase in giving, at about 4 percent.

“The strong growth in individual giving may be less attributable to the largest of the large gifts, which were not as robust as we have seen in some prior years, suggesting that more of that growth in 2016 may have come from giving by donors among the general population compared to recent years,” Rooney said.

In other words, more people gave in smaller amounts.

Last year, Jim Yunker, CEO of the Cincinnati-based philanthropic consulting firm The Yunker Group Inc, said that the local report often reflected the national report and its increase in giving. Nothing has changed in 2016, Yunker said, a trend that has been going on for the past 10 to 12 years.

For Yunker, it is always an “'a-ha' moment” when you see that most of the giving comes from the general population.

“It’s really the individuals that make a difference,” Yunker said.

Here's a breakdown of national figures by the source of giving:

  • Individual giving accounted for $281.86 billion, an increase of 3.9 percent as compared to 2015.
  • Foundation giving totaled $59.28 billion, an increase of 3.5 percent over 2015.
  • Charitable bequests totaled $30.36 billion, which declined 9 percent compared to 2015.
  • Corporate giving accounted for $18.45 billion, an increase of 3.5 percent over 2015.

Yunker said the Tri-State's most resonating causes are early childhood education such as Preschool Promise, the heroin epidemic and the renovation of Music Hall.

The national report shows that giving to all nine major categories increased, the sixth time in the past 40 years that this has occurred.

Here's the breakdown by the nine categories that Giving USA's research covered in its national report:

  • Religion got $122.94 billion. That's an increase 3 percent over 2015.
  • Education giving increased to $59.77 billion. That's 3.6 percent higher than the previous year.
  • Human services got $46.80 billion, a 4 percent increase.
  • Money contributed to foundations increased to an estimated $40.56 billion. That's a 3.1 percent increase
  • Health nonprofits got $33.14 billion, just 1.3 percent more than in 2015.
  • Public-society benefit organizations, got $29.89 billion. That's an increase of 5.8 percent.
  • Arts/culture/humanities received an estimated $18.21 billion, a 6.4 percent increase.
  • International affairs saw a 5.8 percentage increase to $22.03 billion.
  • Environment/animals got $11.05 billion, up 7.2 percent over the prior year.

For Yunker, it is great to see people interested in helping their neighbor -- especially during political uncertainty.

“We are living in generous times,” Yunker said.