Giving USA 2019: Is the Boom Over?

Written by Jessica Browning, Winkler Group Principal and EVP and member of Giving USA Editorial Board.
Giving USA 2019 was released today. Here are our key takeaways from the highly anticipated report on philanthropic giving in America.

Takeaway 1: Get Ready for a Slowdown?

While 2018 giving increased in current dollars to $422.71 billion, there was a $1.7% decrease in inflation-adjusted giving. In addition, every key metric measured by the Fundraising Effectiveness Project (FEP) was down for the first quarter of 2019.

What’s causing the giving slowdown—particularly during a time of economic prosperity when GDP increased 2.7%? Many will blame the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act but Giving USA 2019 tells the whole story.

Takeaway 2: Individual Giving at Lowest Rate Ever

Giving by individuals fell below 70% for the first time since Giving USA began tracking. In 1979, 83% of all giving was from individuals. Giving by foundations and corporations took up much of the slack, rising 7.3% and 5.4% respectively.>

For us as fundraising professionals, this is a call to action. Make your case to your donors or individual philanthropy will continue to erode.

Takeaway 3: Giving to Religion Continues its Decline

For the first time ever, giving to religion has fallen below 30% of total giving (from 31% in 2019).

This decline poses additional challenges across all sectors because people of faith are more likely to make a charitable contribution of any kind. Historically, church giving has often been a young person’s first philanthropic experience.

Takeaway 4: The Disappearing Middle Class

Giving among high net worth individuals remains steady (90% continue to give). But even before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (which reduced the financial incentive for most households to give by doubling the standard tax deduction) went into effect last year, the total number of donors has been falling. Fifteen years ago, 2/3 of all U.S. households gave to charity; today it is closer to only half of all households.

To read more about The Giving Institute’s Giving USA 2019 Findings, click HERE.

To read more about the Fundraising Effectiveness Report’s findings for 2019 first quarter, click HERE.

To read the Giving USA Special Report on Giving to Religion, click HERE.

To learn more about how the Winkler Group can help your organization increase their giving potential, contact Winkler Group EVP, Jessica Browning.

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