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How Giving Is Changing in 2018

With 2017 now in the books, we look ahead. How will giving fare in 2018?

There’s little doubt that we’ll continue to face the same storylines: how the stock market fares, how the economy grows (or doesn’t), the confidence level of the consumer, and the general good feeling (or lack thereof) toward the charitable world.

But underneath these issues, there are larger issues that are playing out. They are shaping the future of the charitable world on an ongoing basis. In the “Philanthropy Outlook” for 2016 and 2017 presented by Marts & Lundy and the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy,¹ the authors note simply,

“Philanthropy is undergoing significant transformation.”²

They note 4 key factors for transformation:

  1. Changing demographics. The issues raised by demographics are broad. The older generations have a different view of giving than do the younger generations. While Millennials, in some cases, may be willing to give significantly, as demonstrated by Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Dr. Priscilla Chan, they also want involvement and engagement. Stated differently, their giving may come with more strings attached. Donor-advised funds are part of this new wave of giving with the desire for simplicity, investment return, and social good.
  2. Increasing diversity. The population of the United States is incredibly diverse. Four in ten Millennials are non-white. Generation Z, below the Millennials, is 50% non-white. Other aspects of diversity, like marital, religious, and sexual orientation, continue to drive change and, sometimes, conflict.
  3. Economic and political dynamics. The effects of the recession of 2008 are still being felt in some sectors of American life. Some would say that a recovery never arrived, and others would say that the recovery reached a less prosperous level. In the political realm, the debate over the value of charity and charitable deductions and the competition for revenue will continue to intensify.
  4. Technological innovations. Technology is a blessing and a curse. For some donors, there’s been information overload. Too much information and too may appeals lead to noise. On the other hand, there’s greater transparency, and information about charities can be had at the touch of a button. Further, the charitable world has been enhanced by giving platforms that make giving easy and integrated.

These dynamics are not mere blips on the screen but instead reflect a steady shift in the wind that can blow charities off course and even to extinction. Those who address these trends will survive and thrive.

¹Marts & Lundy, “The Philanthropy Outlook 2016 & 2017,” Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, January 2016.
²Id. at 4.

Related articles:
Understanding the Big Why of Giving
2016: The Changing Face of Charitable Giving
Moving from Cause Giving to Models

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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