Americans are now donating to charities and nonprofits at a record-high rate of more than $1 billion a day, according to the latest comprehensive report on the nation's charitable giving.
The Giving USA report, being released today, said giving from individuals, estates, foundations and corporations reached an estimated $373.25 billion in 2015, setting a record for the second year in a row. The total was up 4 percent from $359 billion in 2014.
By some barometers in the report, however, Americans are not getting more generous. For 2015, giving by individuals represented 2 percent of total disposable income — down from 2.4 percent in 2000 and the same as the rate in 1975.
Similarly, total charitable donations have hovered around 2 percent of the gross domestic product for many years. For 2015, that figure was 2.1 percent, the same as in 2014 and slightly above the 40-year average of 1.9 percent.
Out of the nine charitable sectors, the biggest increase in 2015, percentage-wise, was for organizations involved in international affairs. Giving to this sector rose 17.4 percent, when adjusted for inflation, to $15.75 billion. Giving to education rose nearly 9 percent to $57.48 billion; this includes many multimillion-dollar gifts to colleges and universities.
As usual, the largest share of donations — $119.3 billion — went to religious organizations. But the increase for this sector was modest at 2.6 percent.
Foundations were the only sector to experience a decline in charitable gifts, which dropped 4 percent to $42.26 billion.
Giving by individuals accounted for $264.58 billion of the total, while corporate giving added up to $18.45 billion. The rest came from foundations and charitable bequests.
The report noted that the increased giving for 2015 followed an even bigger increase in 2014 — up by 6.1 percent when adjusted for inflation.
"It's heartening that people really do want to make a difference, and they're supporting the causes that matter to them," said W. Keith Curtis, who chairs the Giving USA Foundation.