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By Sarah Ruef-Lindquist

Sarah Ruef-Lindquist, JD, CTFA

Sarah Ruef-Lindquist, JD, CTFA

According to Giving USA 2018, for the first time in history annual US charitable giving exceeded $400 billion, with $410.02 billion in charitable gifts in 2017. The report is available at www.givingusa.org.
Their report, published annually by Giving USA Foundation, The Giving Institute and the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, released June 12, 2018, heralded the unprecedented amount of charitable giving that represents an increase of almost $20 billion over 2016, which saw total giving of $390.05 billion.
Some of the factors cited in the report for the robust nature of philanthropy reflected in the 2017 data include:

  • Solid commitment to philanthropy;
  • People having more resources available, choosing to use them to make a difference; and
  • 2017 increases in the stock market, including 20% growth in the S&P 500.

Included in the report was mention of two gifts of at least $1 billion in 2017, quoting the dean of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, Amir Pasic, Ph.D., as saying “This tells us that some of our most fortunate citizens are using their wealth to make some significant contributions to the common good.”
Included in those figures were gifts by bequest of $35.7 billion, an increase of 2.3% over 2016.
As usual, gifts from living individuals made up the largest donor sector, representing 70% of the total. Foundations gave 16%, bequests 9% and corporations 5%. Giving to religion was the largest recipient area, at 31%, education next at 14%, followed by human services at 12%.
There is some speculation that with tax reform at year-end providing less of an incentive for itemization of deductions on tax returns starting in 2018, some may have accelerated giving into 2017, to take advantage of income tax treatment available. Likely we will have no way of seeing whether there has been any negative impact in 2018 of 2017 tax reform until a year from now when the 2018 figures are released.