Charitable giving sets a record in 2015

According to a report from the Giving USA Foundation, people in the U.S. gave $373.25 billion to charity during 2015, up 4.1 percent from a revised estimate of $359.04 billion during 2014. The 2015 number is the highest total in the report's history.

Individual giving rose 3.8 percent in 2015 to $264.58 billion. Corporations donated $18.45 billion, which was up 3.9 percent from 2014, and foundations donated $58.46 billion, which was up 6.5 percent.

Religious organizations continue to receive the largest amount of donations at $119.30 billion; they experienced a 2.7 percent increase in giving. Education received $57.48 billion, which was an increase of 8.9 percent.

In addition, there was a 7 percent increase in giving for arts, culture and humanities organizations; 6.2 percent increase for environmental and animal organizations; 1.3 percent increase for health organizations; 6 percent increase for public-society benefit organizations; 4.2 percent increase for human services organizations; and 17.5 percent increase in giving for international affairs organizations.

Foundations experienced a decrease, falling 3.8 percent to $42.26 billion.

"If you look at total giving by two-year time spans, the combined growth for 2014 and 2015 hit double digits, reaching 10.1 percent when calculated using inflation-adjusted dollars," says W. Keith Curtis, chair of the Giving USA Foundation and president of The Curtis Group, Virginia Beach, Va. "But these findings embody more than numbers—they also are a symbol of the American spirit. It's heartening that people really do want to make a difference, and they're supporting the causes that matter to them. Americans are embracing philanthropy at a higher level than ever before."

This Web exclusive information is a supplement to We can be heroes.