Infographic: Charitable Giving in the United States for 2015

Vol. 14 No. 8

development eletter Vol14 No8 graphicwheel

In terms of private dollar donations, the United States gives more money to charity than any other country. According to The Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies’ comparative report for 36 countries, Americans gave 1.85% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in donations from 1995–2002. While Americans are generous with their fiscal resources, the question remains whether the average donation dollar tends toward your type of nonprofit: A private-independent school.

Charitable Giving in the United States - - Infographic

The infographic is formatted into a visual “map” of the United States, with each state’s size corresponding to a state’s total dollar charitable contributions and its color corresponding to the state’s “giving ratio.” The ratio is calculated by dividing the amount of total charitable contributions reported on income-tax forms by the state’s total adjusted gross income. States that top the charitable contribution list in pure dollars include:

  • California ($25,043,902,000)
  • Texas ($15,897,192,000)
  • Florida ($11,144,250,000)
  • New York ($16,437,302,000)
  • Illinois ($8,077,652,000)
  • Georgia ($7,208,185,000)

States with the highest “giving ratios” include:

  • Utah (6.61%)
  • Mississippi (5.04%)
  • Alabama (4.87%)
  • Tennessee (4.63%)
  • Oklahoma (4.46%)
  • Georgia (4.31%)

Did you notice a geographic trend in that second group of high-giving states? These states rest squarely within the country’s so-called “Bible Belt” in the southeast, running from North Carolina to Texas. (As the leading outlier, it’s worth noting that Utah is also a heavily religious state, with a large number of religious communities.)

That observation is reinforced when you focus on the top charity types for 2014. Donations to “religious” organizations comprised 32% (or about $114,900,000,000) of all charitable giving in 2014. Educational organizations represented the second type of gift, accounting for 15% (or approximately $54,620,000,000) of charitable giving in 2014.

Combining the two categories, religiously affiliated schools could be nominally eligible almost half—47%—of the donated money in 2014, understanding that the largest gifts come from a smaller pool of donors. Other nonprofit private-independent schools are also well-positioned to take advantage of the average American donor’s tendency to donate to education-related organizations.

The infographic also reminds us that sometimes the percentage of money given from a smaller available pool of funds—the “giving ratio” in this report—can be just as powerful as large gifts. Higher ratios of giving reflect your community’s investment in your school’s mission and program, and are worth leveraging in other ways like community outreach for enrollment purposes and a stronger volunteer corps.

Finally, the infographic demonstrates the disparity between private contributions and “total revenue,” which includes donations given by companies. Businesses may feel more comfortable giving to national, well-known nonprofits, as shown by the “big name” charities like the YMCA and Goodwill receiving a large portion of company-related charitable funds.

These funds represent an opportunity for the Development Office to reach out to local businesses. Savvy Directors can promote keeping that money “at home” at a local private school community, rather than funding programs across the country and the world.

Of course, every community is intimate and unique, comprised of its own challenges and opportunities not categorized within such a broad report. That said, national trends offer an “eagle eye” view of the overall giving patterns, and can present a “benchmark” against which to evaluate our own giving programs, while reminding us of prime outreach opportunities.

If you’re ready to apply national research and best practices to your school’s advancement efforts, then it’s time to take your team to the Advancement Academy in Boston, Massachusetts (July 25-29). During this intensive five-day professional development experience, you’ll work with expert mentors to form your school’s integrated advancement plan, ready to execute the instant you set foot back on campus. To register, call 302-656-4944 and be sure to ask about team pricing!

Additional ISM resources:
The Source for Development Directors Vol. 14 No. 5 New Fundraising Report Suggests Organizations Suffer Donor Attrition
The Source for Development Directors Vol. 10 No. 2 21st Century Development: It's All About Engagement
The Source for Development Directors Vol. 9 No. 2 Now More Than Ever—Tell Donors What Their Gifts Will Achieve

Additional ISM resources for Gold Consortium members:
I&P Vol. 27 No. 4 Charitable Giving in a New Environment
I&P Vol. 32 No. 4 Development Office Management: The ISM Stability Marker

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