Charitable giving increases in 2014

According to a report from the Giving USA Foundation, people in the U.S. gave $358.38 billion to charity during 2014, up 7.1 percent from a revised estimate of $339.94 billion during 2013. The 2014 number is the highest total in the report's 60-year history.

Individual giving rose 5.7 percent in 2014 to $258.51 billion. Corporations donated $17.77 billion, which was up 13.7 percent from 2013, and foundations donated $53.97 billion, which was up 8.2 percent.

Religious organizations continue to receive the largest amount of donations at $114.90 billion; they experienced a 2.5 percent increase in giving. Education received $54.62 billion, which was an increase of 4.9 percent. Foundations also experienced an increase, climbing 1.8 percent to $41.62 billion.

In addition, there was a 9.2 percent increase in giving for arts, culture and humanities organizations; 7 percent increase for environmental and animal organizations; 5.5 percent increase for health organizations; 5.1 percent increase for public-society benefit organizations; 3.6 percent increase for human services organizations; and 2 percent decrease in giving for international affairs organizations.

"The 60-year high for total giving is a great story about resilience and perseverance," says W. Keith Curtis, chair of the Giving USA Foundation and president of The Curtis Group, Virginia Beach, Va. "It's also interesting to consider that growth was across the board, even though criteria used to make decisions about giving differ for each source."

"Individual giving is affected by available disposable income at the household level, wealth and growth in the S&P 500," he continues. "All three increased last year, as did the amount people spent in general—not just on charitable donations. Corporate giving decisions, on the other hand, have historically been driven by changes in pretax profits and GDP. Other factors might be affecting how much they donate; time—and further research—will tell. With virtually every economic indicator that gets measured showing growth, I think it's safe to conclude they played a large part in making 2014 a banner year for giving from every source."

This Web exclusive information is a supplement to Shining like stars.