The United States is one of the most charitable and generous nations in the world. An important part of our culture is donating to worthy causes.
[This post has been revised and updated from the original post published in March 2017]
Granted, we are also bombarded with fundraisers, online funding drives, small children in front of our favorite grocery store with cookies. You name it, the list is almost endless. Giving, donating, and fundraising are built into the fabric of our society.
And, sometimes, donating is a preferable alternative to simply throwing unwanted items away.
As a nation, our overall charitable giving dropped somewhat after 2008, most likely as a fallout from the economic recession that hurt so many businesses and families. However, over time that began to change and our giving increased, especially over the last few years.
According to recent data from Charity Navigator,
Charitable giving continued its upward trend in 2016, as an estimated $390 billion was given to charitable causes. For the third year in a row, total giving reached record levels. This increase and the overall size of charitable contributions is further testament to the integral role charities play in our society, a role which continues to grow.
How much do we give?
Total giving to charitable organizations was $390.05 billion in 2016 (2.1% of GDP). This is an increase of 2.7% in current dollars and 1.4% in inflation-adjusted dollars from 2015.
Giving has increased in current dollars every year since 1976, with the exception of three years that saw declines: 1987, 2008 and 2009.
The average year-to-year change in total giving between 1976 and 2016 was an increase of $8.96 billion (in current dollars), making the current-dollar change in total giving between 2015 and 2016 much larger than the 40-year average.
Who is Doing the Giving?
Its been shown that for most years the majority of giving comes from individuals. In fact, individuals gave $281.86 billion, accounting for 72% of all giving and representing a 3.9% increase over 2015.
This means that just donations from individuals alone account for over two-thirds of all donations. And if you add in gifts from bequests and family foundations, which are just different groups of individuals, that means individual givers are responsible for nearly 80 percent of all giving.
It is the generosity of individual people, not faceless foundations or organization, that is responsible for almost all of the money donated each year.
Who Are We Giving To?
According the website at Charity Navigator, here are some figures for 2016 on where our donations go. (All data is the property of Giving USA 2017, the Annual Report on Philanthropy.)
Giving to Education charities was up 3.6% to $59.77 billion (15% of all donations).
Donations to Human Services charities were up 4.0% to $46.8 billion (12% of all donations).
Foundations saw an increase of 3.1% to $40.56 billion (10% of all donations).
Health charities experienced an increase of 5.7% to $33.14 billion (8% of all donations).
Public-Society Benefit charities saw an increase of 3.7% to $29.89 billion (8% of all donations).
Giving to International charities increased by 5.8% to $22.03 billion (6% of all donations).
Arts, Culture and Humanities saw an increase of 6.4% to $18.21 billion (5% of all donations).
Charities that focus on the Environment / Animals saw an increase of 7.2% to $11.05 billion (3% of all donations).
Historically, Religious groups have received the largest share of charitable donations. This remained true in 2016. With the 3.0% increase in donations this year, 32% of all donations, or $122.94 billion, went to Religious organizations. Much of these contributions can be attributed to people giving to their local place of worship.
And this is just the monetary giving. In addition, individuals were responsible for huge amounts of non-cash donations. Those donations claimed by taxpayers are tracked in the Internal Revenue Service's Statistics of Income Bulletin. According to the data,
Total donations increased 30.1 percent for 2014, up from $46.4 billion for the previous year. Corporate stock donations increased 48.0 percent from $19.7 billion for 2013 to $29.2 billion for 2014, while easements more than doubled to $3.2 billion. Of the $60.4 billion in noncash donations reported, over half went to foundations ($18.9 billion or 31.4 percent of the total) and large charitable organizations ($12.2 billion or 20.2 percent of the total).
But wanting to donate furniture and other old goods and items is not the same as dumping your unusable junk. Charities do not need or want clothing, appliances, and other goods that are not usable or in restorable condition. Those items should be handled by a junk hauling firm, not donated.
So what's fit for donating? Here's a handy infographic to guide you in that:
(Courtesy of www.charitynavigator.org)
Do you know what items you can donate? That's great, but once you've taken care of that, you may well find that you still have a large number of items you need to get rid of. That's where a professional and reliable junk hauling firm can help!
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