Marin Community Foundation
Philanthropy Rising

Charitable Giving Expected to Grow 3.6% in 2017

Originally published by Chronicle of Philanthropy [link] on January 12, 2017

Charitable giving is projected to rise 3.6 percent this year and 3.8 percent in 2018, according to a report released Thursday.

Individuals and households — which account for more than 70 percent of total donations — are expected to increase giving by 3 percent in 2017 and 3.2 percent next year, according to the Philanthropy Outlook, a set of forecasts made by researchers at Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and Marts & Lundy, a fundraising-consulting firm. The growth in individual giving will be largely driven by expected gains in personal income and household net worth, the reports says.

Healthy Gains

Giving to hospitals and other health organizations is expected to rise 8.5 percent this year and 7.9 percent in 2018, while donations to colleges, schools, and other education groups will increase 6.3 percent in 2017 and 6 percent next year.

Public-society benefit organizations, which include nonprofits like the United Way and organizations that offer donor-advised funds, are expected to see donations increase 5.2 percent in 2017 and 5.4 percent in 2018.

The study did not analyze all types of charitable groups, but some categories are expected to see smaller growth or decreases in giving, said Una Osili, director of research at the Lilly School.

Researchers based their forecast on projections of gross domestic product, personal income, stock-market growth, and other data.

Other highlights in the report:

  • Giving by foundations is expected to rise 5.9 percent this year and 6 percent in 2018, largely because of stock-market growth over the past few years and gains in the overall economy.
  • Bequests and other planned gifts are expected to grow 5.4 percent this year and 5.2 percent in 2018. However, bequest giving is hard to predict and fluctuates from year to year, because it depends on when donors die.
  • Corporate donations are projected to rise 2.4 percent in 2017 and 2.7 percent in 2018.

Economic Concerns

Still, some nonprofit leaders worry that the economy and stock market might falter in the near future and are anxious about general uncertainty as Mr. Trump takes office. He has proposed scrapping trade deals and imposing tariffs on foreign goods, which economists say could damage the economy and, in turn, charitable giving.

"There’s considerable uncertainty in the U.S. economy and also the global economy," Ms. Osili said. "That really has to be factored in."

It’s important for nonprofits to watch out for policy changes that might affect giving and government support, Ms. Osili said. Still, she noted that any big policy changes will likely take time to implement.