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Can We Raise the 2 Percent?

There are some rosy numbers out there for the giving world.  In 2014, the last full year numbers are available, charitable giving to donor advised funds (like the National Christian Foundation) was $29 billion—which is nearly 6 percent of total giving.

The Atlas for Giving predicted for 2015 that overall charitable giving might decrease by 3.2 percent for a total of $442 billion—still an apparently healthy number.

But here’s the head scratcher—giving remains at 2 percent of GDP and has been that way for the past 40 years.  Put differently, no matter the times, no matter how well the stock market does, no matter how much incomes rise, giving as an overall percentage of the wallet has remained the same.

That flat giving percentage puzzles me, since more charities have entered the fray.  There is more visibility to needs in the community, and there’s more ways to give than ever before.  Yet giving still remains fixed at 2 percent of GDP.

This issue is starting to gain more attention.  In 2013, the Chronicle of Philanthropy called it “The Stubborn 2 percent Giving Rate,” and noted that if everyone gave up a morning coffee, then $220 billion more would go to charity annually.  Ray Gary, CEO of iDonate.com, addressed the issue again at the 2016 Association of Fundraising Professionals Conference, and a recent article by Jay Love, CEO of Bloomerang, raises the same question of “Ways we can raise Charitable Giving as a Percent of GDP.”

Why do we want giving as a percentage of GDP to go up?  It’s simple.  As giving goes up, more people get helped.  More people get reached.  More people get fed.  Our world gets better.  And let’s not forget the clear statistical research of the intrinsic benefits of generosity to the giver—those who give generously are more likely to be happier, healthier, and stronger in relationships and community.

So let’s raise the 2 percent!  What are your ideas on how we can raise it?

About Bill High

Bill High is an author of several books and co-author with David Green of Giving It All Away and Getting It All Back Again: The Way of Living Generously: www.givingitallawaybook.com. You can find him at www.billhigh.com and sign up for his blogs there.

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