American donors contributed an estimated $373 billion to charity in 2015, setting a record for the second consecutive year, according to the Giving USA 2016 report, released this week.
The report said the new high in giving was a record in both current and inflation-adjusted dollars.
In 2015, total giving grew by 4.1% in current dollars—4% when adjusted for inflation—over 2014. The revised inflation-adjusted estimate for total giving in 2014 was $359 billion, with current-dollar growth of 7.8%, and an inflation-adjusted increase of 6.1%.
There was more positive news.
“If you look at total giving by two-year time spans, the combined growth for 2014 and 2015 hit double digits, reaching 10.1% when calculated using inflation-adjusted dollars,” Giving USA Foundation chair W. Keith Curtis, president of nonprofit consulting firm The Curtis Group, said in a statement.
“The last two years represent the highest and second-highest totals for giving—and the third and fourth largest percentage increases in giving—in the past 10 years, adjusted for inflation,” Amir Pasic, the Eugene R. Tempel dean of the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, which researched and wrote the report.
Charitable contributions from individuals, estates, foundations and corporations all went up in 2015, with those from individuals once again leading the way in terms of total dollar amount, at $265 billion—following a six-decade historical pattern, the report said.
Not only did individuals give the most in 2015, increasing their gifts by 3.8% when measured in current dollars, they also were responsible for two-thirds of the year’s overall increase in total giving.
Very large charitable gifts of $100 million or more in 2015 totaled some $3.3 billion, according to the report. Huge contributions affect the numbers, “but Americans’ collective generosity would still be enormous even without those jaw-dropping gifts,” the Lilly school’s associate dean Patrick Rooney said in the statement.
“Philanthropy is quite democratic and always has been—more people give than vote in the U.S.—and $20, $10 and $1 gifts do make a cumulative difference.”
In 2015, the largest year-over-year percentage increase in charitable donations from sources came via grants made by independent, community and operating foundations, the report said, citing data provided by the Foundation Center.
Foundation grant making increased by 6.5% in current dollars.
Charitable bequests went up by 2.1% in current dollars over 2014 to $32 billion, and corporate giving rose by 3.9% to $18.5 billion.