American donors are changing their approach to charitable giving and their views on how to solve a wide range of global challenges, Fidelity Charitable reported in a study released Wednesday.
“What we see in this study is a significant shift in the way people think about their giving—with changes that will pick up speed as the giving power of millennials increases in the years ahead,” Pamela Norley, president of Fidelity Charitable, said in a statement.
The report was based on a 2016 survey conducted by Artemis Strategy Group among 3,254 adults in the U.S. who had donated to charities and claimed itemized charitable deductions on their 2015 tax returns.
A Giving USA study released in June reported that Americans donated a record $373 billion in 2015. “The vast majority of Americans give to charity,” Norley said.
Priorities and Solutions
Donors in the Fidelity survey identified a wide range of pressing issues, including these top priorities:
- Developing treatment or cure for a disease: 39%
- Hunger and access to nutritious foods: 38%
- Access to basic health services: 33%
- Protecting and preserving the environment: 29%
- Access to quality basic education: 26%
At the same time, they thought solutions to these problems lay beyond just investment in traditional nonprofits. Only 17% of respondents said they were “strongly optimistic” that giving alone would lead to fixes for the issues they most cared about, while 77% were “somewhat optimistic.”
Thirty-nine percent of respondents said nonprofits had the potential to develop solutions and create necessary change, but they also looked farther afield: 36% to public-private partnerships, 33% to individuals, 32% to religious institutions, 26% to universities, 26% to business and 24% to social enterprises. Only 19% cited government.
Forty-five percent of donors said business should do more to fund solutions, and 43% said individuals/philanthropy should do so.
“Donors give for a variety of reasons, some of which are deeply personal,” Norley said. “However, to tackle the issues they care about, they increasingly believe in the need to have all hands on deck.”
Giving Approaches Reshaped
Philanthropy has changed rapidly over the past two decades, with 60% of donors in the survey citing at least one way that their giving has shifted.