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Americans had a ‘record-breaking’ year of charitable giving in 2017

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 6/12/2018
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Charitable giving by Americans reached a record high in 2017, with more than $410 billion being given out for good causes.

This was a 5.2% increase from the previous year, according to the Giving USA Foundation’s annual philanthropic report, thanks in large part to a strong economy and stock market.

"The increase in giving in 2017 was generated in part by increases in the stock markets, as evidenced by the nearly 20% growth in the S&P 500," Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy dean, Amir Pasic, said in a statement.

“Investment returns funded multiple very large gifts, most of which were given by individuals to their foundations, including two gifts of $1 billion or more,” he said. “This tells us that some of our most fortunate citizens are using their wealth to make some significant contributions to the common good.”

The year of magical giving is especially inspiring considering the current contentious political atmosphere across the country, the report noted.

"Americans’ record-breaking charitable giving in 2017 demonstrates that even in divisive times our commitment to philanthropy is solid," said Aggie Sweeney, chair of the Giving USA Foundation. “As people have more resources available, they are choosing to use them to make a difference. Contributions went up nearly across the board, signaling that Americans seem to be giving according to their beliefs and interests, which are diverse and wide-ranging.”

Researchers from IU found that giving rose by at least 5% in three of the four categories they considered — by corporations (8%), foundations (6%), and individuals (5%). Among the groups of recipients, foundations had the largest uptick in donations, increasing by 15.5%. This is thanks in large part to a few stand-out gifts of over $1 billion each from philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates, Michael and Susan Dell and Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan to their respective foundations.

Religious groups remain the largest recipient of charitable funds, seeing an increase of 2.9% in 2017 to $127.37 billion accepted. Gifts to education, human services, public society, health, the arts and the environment all rose by at least 5.1%, totaling nearly $210 billion for the year. The only category that saw a reduction in donations was international affairs (-4.4%), which sbrought in $23 billion.

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