More reports and studies on the various facets of philanthropy are published today than ever before, but Giving USA remains the most quoted and respected source for establishing the overall yearly total for the field. It provides the number that most other studies quote and that big news outlets report.
The good news in the latest report, released June 18, 2019, is that the $427.71 billion raised in 2018 is the largest amount of contributions ever reported by Giving USA. By comparison, this dollar figure is greater than the GDP of most countries in 2017.
The bad news is that this is only a slight 0.7% increase over 2017 numbers. Last year’s report listed the numbers at $410.02 billion, but that figure has been revised up to $424.74 billion. Compared with recent year-to-year increases, the new report suggests that growth has slowed. It is important, however, to consider that a number of factors contributed to making 2018 an uncertain year for philanthropy. In particular, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act going into effect may have encouraged some people to hold off on giving. In the middle of December 2018, the biggest month of the year for philanthropy, the stock market saw considerably volatility ahead of the government shutdown.
Given these circumstances that increased the complexity of the philanthropic in landscape in 2018, a slight increase may have, in fact, been the best result for which anyone could have realistically hoped.