Americans dig deep when it comes to charity giving


Americans dug deep again, giving to charity at a strong pace last year.

The report, released June 25, shows individuals, bequests, foundations and corporations gave an estimated $557.16 billion to U.S. charities in 2023.

When adjusted for inflation, however, that giving provided a reduced purchasing power, according to the Giving USA 2024: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2023 .

Total giving grew 1.9% in current dollars, but a higher-than-average inflation rate (4.1%) means giving declined by 2.1% when adjusted for that inflation, according to the report, researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IU Indianapolis.

Two things stood out in the report, the school noted:

After a rocky 2022, total giving’s growth in 2023 may indicate positive signs in the nonprofit sector. And total giving remains above pre-pandemic levels, even when adjusted for inflation. The COVID-19 pandemic significantly disrupted nonprofits’ normal operations, complicating their ability to provide services, increasing demand and creating new types of community needs.

“Americans increased their giving over the previous year despite the elevated cost of living and headlines warning of a possible recession in 2023,” said Josh Birkholz, chairman of Giving USA Foundation. “We’re not yet back to the highs of pandemic-era giving, but there are some signs of stability.”

Closer to home, the Community Foundation of Jackson County saw a strong year for giving too. More than 800 individual donors stepped up and gave $1.056 million in gifts and pledges, spurred in part through a match program for unrestricted gifts through the Lilly Endowment Inc. GIFT VIII initiative.

That is the second-highest gift total in one year at the foundation. In 2020, the year COVID-19 struck across the United States and around the world, donors gave $1.17 million in gifts to the foundation.

These increases in giving — including locally — came at a time when nonprofits found themselves navigating a number of turbulent issues such as the pandemic, economic downturn, inflation and uncertain political times.

“While the philanthropic landscape continues to evolve, it’s encouraging to see that giving continues to be resilient,” said Amir Pasic, the Eugene R. Tempel dean of the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

Giving in 2023 was partly driven by growth in the stock market and GDP, which support giving by corporations, foundations and individuals, the report states. Growth in personal income and consumer spending also lifted individual giving.

All four sources of giving in 2023 grew in current dollars but remained flat or declined when adjusted for inflation. Giving by foundations and corporations posted positive two-year growth, even when adjusting for inflation.

Una Osili, associate dean for research and international programs at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, said American giving in 2023 was powered in part by promising economic growth during the year.

“Strong market growth in the last five years increased the value of assets held by foundations, which in turn has enabled foundations to give more over time,” Osili said. “For the second year in a row, grantmaking by foundations crossed over the $100 billion mark.”

The Community Foundation of Jackson County paid out $1.024 million in grants and scholarships during 2023.

Measured in current dollars, giving grew in all nine categories of nonprofits that receive charitable contributions. In inflation-adjusted terms, seven of the nine subsectors saw growth, although giving to religion and international affairs declined when adjusted for inflation.

The strongest growth among grantmaking organizations was seen in the giving to foundations and to public-society benefit organizations, the report states.

“Giving to these areas is also well above pre-pandemic levels, indicating that the wealthy donors who tend to give to grantmaking organizations continue to invest in the future of the nonprofit sector,” Vice Chairwoman Wendy McGrady of Giving USA Foundation said.

Continued strong local giving to the Community Foundation of Jackson County is, we believe, a result of our community stepping up in a time of need and a recognition of the vital role we play in partnering with other nonprofits performing important work across our community.

We also, of course, value, understand and appreciate the giving of our donors. Without the generosity of those individuals, organizations and businesses, our work could not take place.

Thank you for giving. Thank you for supporting our community. Thank you for supporting the Community Foundation of Jackson County.

Dan Davis is president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Jackson County. The foundation administers more than 200 funds with assets of more than $18 million. For information about how you can make a donation to any of the funds administered by the Foundation or how you might start a new fund, call 812-523-4483 or send an email to Dan Davis at [email protected].

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