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8 Key Facts on Charitable Giving

Charitable giving decisions at the computer

CCS Fundraising put together their 7th Edition Snapshot of Today’s Philanthropic Landscape. Here are eight key facts about charitable giving from the report:

  1. Good news/Bad news. While 2017 saw charitable giving rise to $410 billion dollars, that was with 56% of the U.S. population giving to charity. Can you imagine what the number would be if 70% gave to charity?
  2. Dispelling a myth. 91% of high net worth donors gave to charity. That cuts against the notion that the wealthy are only out for themselves.
  3. Boomers are still the key. 41% of total U.S. giving came from the Boomer Generation. There’s still strong reliance on that population segment. On the other hand, Generation X, just below the Boomers, surpassed the Silent Generation for the first time.
  4. Online giving trending upward. Online giving went up 12% and accounts for 8% of all giving. Mobile giving went up a whopping 205%!
  5. Giving to religion growing slower. In the past year, giving to religion went up only by 2% whereas gifts to foundations went up by 15.5%. The arts, public benefit, healthcare and environmental all grew by 7-8%.
  6. Giving as a percentage of income remains stagnant. While the overall picture for charitable giving appears rosy, giving as a percentage of income remains stagnant. The top 10 metropolitan areas averaged just 3.1% of giving as a percentage of income.
  7. Differing giving motivations. Notably, while all generations are motivated by giving as an expression of personal values and desire to make a difference, for the younger generations (X and Millennials) there’s a growing trend of giving from a sense of responsibility and obligation. Similarly, a growing trend for younger generations is the tax benefit of giving as well.
  8. Top 50 donor trends. Of the Top 50 donors in America, the vast majority of gifts (72%) went to universities or hospitals. Religion did not crack the list of any of the top 50.

These numbers help to give a picture of how Americans gave in 2017, and confirm some of the trends I wrote about with Ray Gary in Charity Shock last year. However, while statistics and metrics are useful for planning and decision-making, they don’t touch the heart of donors.

What do I mean? No one is going to read these statistics and be motivated to radical generosity. Even statistics about great need aren’t the most effective motivator for giving.

We’ve all heard of the importance of stories in connecting with donors. Stories capture our attention and imagination. They have to be true stories, of course. And for followers of Jesus, the truest story of all has incredible power to touch us and to transform our hearts.

God created the world and human beings as an act of joyful generosity, and rescued us for Himself at infinite cost when the Son dealt with our sin at the cross.

God’s great generosity and love provide the most powerful motivation I know of for a lifetime of generosity.

About Bill High

Bill is CEO of the Signatry: A Global Christian Foundation. He works with families, individual givers, and financial advisers to share the foundation’s message regarding biblical generosity and charitable giving. » Learn More. He is the co-author with David Green of Giving It All Away and Getting It All Back Again: The Way of Living Generously.

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