Philanthropy in America:
Trends, Opportunities,
and Tips for Success

Ken Marotte Senior Writer AC Fitzgerald Author

Ken Marotte, Senior Writer and Managing Director

You and your organization devote considerable time and treasure to raising funds for your mission. But what guides these efforts? Intuition and impulse? Or reliable and timely information? If you belong to the latter camp – and you should – it’s time to peruse, absorb, and apply the critical findings of the most recent Giving USA report.

An initiative of the Giving USA Foundation in conjunction with the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, Giving USA is the most comprehensive report on philanthropy in America. Among its key findings:

  • Americans gave $427.7 billion to charities in 2018, up from $424.7 billion in 2017
  • Over the same period, individual giving (including bequest gifts) declined while foundation and corporation giving grew
  • In fact, foundation giving had a record-breaking year in 2018, reaching its highest-ever dollar amount at $75.9 billion
  • Organization types that benefited most: international affairs, environment, animal welfare
  • Organization types that were flat: Human services health, arts, culture, humanities
  • Organization types that benefited least: Religion, public policy, economic development

This year’s results were impacted by a number of unique forces. “The environment for giving in 2018,” noted Rick Dunham, chair of the Giving USA Foundation, “was far more complex than most years, with shifts in tax policy and the volatility of the stock market. This is particularly true for the wide range of households that comprise individual giving and provide over two-thirds of all giving.”

How can your group capitalize on these findings? Ensure that you have the infrastructure in place to accept, manage, and deliver on foundation and corporate gifts. Find unique ways to reach and inspire individuals, and encourage them to include your nonprofit in their estate plans. Finally, make a strong case for the value and urgency of your work—one that resonates with donors to such a degree that tax deduction concerns become immaterial.

Those interested in exploring the Giving USA report at greater length may do so here.

Ken Marotte serves as Senior Writer and Managing Director at AC Fitzgerald. He writes powerful fundraising pieces for the firm’s clients, and uses his skills in process analysis and improvement to strengthen our day-to-day operations.

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