Giving USA Foundation today (June 14, 2016) reported that in calendar 2015 $373.25 billion was contributed to charity in the US. Gifts from living individuals, and bequests, remain the single largest category of combined support at 80% -- consistent with decades of past reporting. Bequest giving is likely underreported because many estates are too small to be taxed and therefore don’t show in the IRS data on which Giving USA depends.
Religious giving continues to lead the way as the largest recipient of charity at 32%. But over time religious giving has been declining. Data aside what the numbers tell us is first that US philanthropy is historically robust; even in hard times (2008-9), philanthropy dips less than other sectors of the economy. Second, Americans may or may not be more generous than others; that is not quantifiable. But for sure US taxpayers subsidize giving through the charitable deduction. In most economies, people get more back from their governments in services, support of health, education, welfare, the arts and so on in exchange for the higher taxes they pay. Accordingly, in this nations, there is less incentive to make charitable donations. In recent years, in many key economies, this has changed as governments have been pulling back on traditional support.
Though there is no reliable giving data yet for 2016 this year, our market sense is that this will be a strong year for charitable giving. May it come to pass.