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Study Reports Philanthropic Surge in 2015

A very strong first half bodes well for the rest of the year

The Atlas of Giving recently released their “2015 Mid-Year Report on U.S. Charitable Giving,” and it paints a fairly rosy picture. The unexpectedly strong numbers show total donations of $238.88 billion for the first half of 2015, a 7.6 percent increase over the same period last year. Though the study lists a number of contributing factors, it considers the main driver to be improving employment rates. Since 74 percent of giving in this country is derived from individual donors, donations tend to increase when people are employed, not worried about losing their jobs and able to actually take advantage of favorable economic climes like low interest rates and little to no inflation.

One of the other interesting factors mentioned in the study is technology. Through advancement and increasing adoption, technologies such as crowd funding, online event support and predictive and analytic tools, have made the fundraising process cheaper and more painless than ever before. This ease is aptly represented in another important trend: The increasing role of niche non-profits. Such organizations used to face major hurdles in getting their messages out and reaching those with shared interest. That difficulty is far less of an issue in our increasingly interconnected world, as only a few keystrokes now separate even the most narrow charities from prospective donors. As such, niche non-profits are increasingly bringing new money into the philanthropic sphere and preventing stagnation.

Giving increased across all sources as compared to the same period in 2014. Foundations showed the strongest growth, at 7.5 percent, though they represent only about 14 percent of total giving, so the impact is muted, while corporate gifts grew the least at 4.9 percent, though again, at only 5 percent of total giving, this figure doesn't move the needle much. Most of the unexpected success of the half-year is attributable to the 7.3 percent growth in individual giving, which, as mentioned earlier, makes up 74 percent of total giving annually.

Taking these results into account, the study estimates that by year-end, giving should reach $482.27 billion, a robust 5.6 percent increase from 2014. 

The full study can be found here.

TAGS: Philanthropy
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