June 14, 2017

Wise Giving Wednesday: $390 Billion Donated in 2016

Giving USA, the annual summary of U.S. giving statistics produced by the Indiana University Lily Family School of Philanthropy, just released figures for 2016 giving this week.  As reported in the Chronicle of Philanthropy and other media articles such as the AP story in the Washington Post, 2016 contributions totaled $390.1 billion which increased 2.7 percent in current dollars (1.4 percent adjusted for inflation) over the previous year. The largest reported increase was for environmental and animal-welfare organizations which increased 5.8 percent after adjusting for inflation.  However, religious organizations continued to capture the biggest part of the giving pie with a slice totaling $122.9 billion representing 32% of total giving, followed by education (15%), human services (12%), health (8%), and all other causes (33%). 

In addition to confirming American generosity, this report reminds us each year that giving from living individuals (i.e., not including bequests) comprises 70% of donations totaling $281.9 billion dollars.  Individual giving is the largest share of giving, and in my discussions with people about contributions, I sometimes hear the mistaken impression that foundations or corporations contribute a larger amount of the total than they actually do. 

We believe that each donor makes a difference, no matter how much they decide to give, since cumulatively they are the most significant part of philanthropy in terms of giving totals. This is also all the more reason to make each contribution count by verifying the trustworthiness of charities by visiting Give.org to find out if the subject charity meets the 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability. 


As part of our Building Trust Video series, we are pleased to provide a video of Delaney Gracy, M.D., Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, Children’s Health Fund (a BBB Accredited Charity) which seeks to deliver health care to disadvantaged children. Among other things, it has a national network that operates in 17 states and the District of Columbia that help reach over 75,000 individuals each year. 


We are always working with charities to publish or update reports for donors. Visit Give.org or local BBBs to check out any charity before giving. Our recently evaluated charities include:

Finally, remember to let us know by going to https://www.give.org/ask-us-about-a-charity1/ if you are  interested in seeing a report on a charity not on the list and we will do our best to produce one.   

H. Art Taylor, President & CEO
BBB Wise Giving Alliance