• Strategic Giving
  • Philanthropy Facts

    Why Americans Give to Charity?
    • A January 2007 Wall Street JournalHarris Interactive personal finance poll found that 76 percent of respondents give to charity because they believe in the cause and 52 percent because they believe their contribution would have an impact. These two reasons received a significantly higher percentage of votes than other reasons, such as getting a tax write off or 'my employer encourages me' to give.
            Source: Wall Street JournalHarris Interactive Survey, 2007
    • A U.S. Trust survey of affluent Americans found that 79 percent want to support worthwhile causes and 69 percent believe they have a responsibility to share their good fortune.
            Source: U.S. Trust Survey of Affluent Americans, 1998
    • A charitable-giving survey by Citibank showed that 67 percent of all Americans base their charitable decisions on personal interests and passions.
            Source: Citibank, 2002
    • A 2007 University of British Columbia study of 600 individuals found that only "prosocial spending" – gifts to others and donations to charity – correlate with happiness.
            Source: Science Magazine, volume 319
    • According to the Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey, a survey of 30,000 American households, people who gave money to charity in 2000 were 43 percent more likely than non-givers to say they were "very happy" about their lives.
            Source: Saguaro Seminar: Civic Engagement in America at the John F. Kennedy School of Government of Harvard University, 2001
    • A "happiness investigation" conducted by a Syracuse University professor found that people who give to charity are happier than those who don't.
            Source: "Gross National Happiness," Arthur C. Brooks, Basic Books, April 2008
    Who Gives to Charity and How Much?
    • Americans donated more than $300 BILLION to charity in 2007, the largest single-year total in history. Of the total, some $30 billion was donated to higher education, another $23 billion to health organizations and nearly $14 billion to the arts.
            Source: Giving USA Foundation
    • Over the next 40-plus years, through the year 2052, charitable bequests alone could reach $6 trillion.
            Source: Boston College Center on Wealth and Philanthropy
    • A 2006 survey found that 3.1 percent of U.S. households – high net-worth individuals with incomes exceeding $200,000 per year or assets in excess of $1,000,000 – are responsible for nearly two-thirds of all charitable giving.
            Source: Bank of America Study of High Net-Worth Philanthropy
    • That same survey found that, in 2005, total giving by households with a net worth of more than $50 million was, on average, $1,163,190, nearly ten times the amount donated by households with a net worth of $5 to $50 million ($117,185 on average) and nearly 50 times the amount donated by households with a net worth of $1 to $5 million ($25,264 on average).
            Source: Bank of America Study of High Net-Worth Philanthropy
    • The number of charitable gifts exceeding $1 million from individuals, foundations, corporations, and bequests increased from 664 in the second quarter of 2007 to 685 in the second quarter of 2008.
            Source: Indiana University Center on Philanthropy
    • The largest charitable contribution in 2007 was Leona Helmsley's bequest of $4 billion to the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. The next largest contributions in 2007 were from Barron Hilton ($1.2 billion), Jon M. and Karen Huntsman ($627 million), and T. Denny Sanford ($502.6 million).
            Source: The 2007 Slate 60
    How Much Do Foundations Give?
    • Over the past 30 years, the total endowment of U.S. charitable foundations increased from about $30 billion to well over $500 billion. The largest charitable foundation in the United States is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with an estimated endowment of nearly $40 billion.
            Source: Foundation Center
    • Giving by America's grant-making foundations increased by 14.3 percent to $36.4 billion in 2005 (the last year for which reliable data are available). Giving by the 25 largest foundations in 2005 rose 9.5 percent: to $7.6 billion.
            Source: Foundation Center
    • The number of family foundations increased an estimated 40 percent between 2000 and 2005. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many of those foundations are being formed by individuals in their forties and fifties.
            Source: Foundation Center
    What Does the Nonprofit Sector Look Like?
    • The number of nonprofit charities in the United States increased from less than 1.1 million in 2003 to nearly 1.5 million in 2006, a 36.2 percent increase.
            Source: Urban Institute's National Center for Charitable Statistics
    • These 1.5 million nonprofits had $1 trillion in revenues 2006, including income from contributions, investment earnings and other sources.
            Source: Urban Institute National Center for Charitable Statistics
    • The total number of nonprofit groups has approximately doubled in the last 25 years.
            Source: Independent Sector
    • From 1987 to 2006, the number of charitable organizations registering with the IRS has grown at double the rate of the business sector.
            Source: Independent Sector
    • For the period October 1, 2006 through September 30, 2007 (fiscal year 2007), the IRS received 85,771 applications for recognition of Section 501(c)(3) status.
            Source: Internal Revenue Service 2007 Data Book
    Are Charitable Organizations Accountable?
    • An October 2007 Contribute Magazine/Harris Interactive survey of 3,040 adults showed a disturbing 59 percent more concerned today than they were a decade ago that their charitable donations are not being used effectively. A nearly equal number of respondents – 56 percent – expressed growing concern about the "misuse of funds." Nearly half of the respondents (49 percent) were worried about "unnecessary administrative overhead." And 46 percent said they are increasingly concerned about "fraud or theft of funds."
            Source: Harris Interactive
    • A Harris Interactive survey in late April 2006 found that only one American in 10 strongly agreed that charitable organizations are honest and ethical in their use of donated funds. A plurality of respondents (48 percent) somewhat agreed that charitable organizations are honest and ethical.
            Source: Harris Interactive
    • A December 2005 nationwide survey by Zogby International found that the overwhelming majority of Americans – a near-unanimous 97 percent – consider it a "very" or "somewhat" serious matter if charities spend donated funds on unauthorized projects. Some 78.7 percent of the respondents said they would "definitely" or "probably" stop giving to any charity that accepts contributions for one purpose and uses the money for another. Seven out of 10 respondents (72.4 percent) said that when a nonprofit organization uses money "for a purpose other than the one for which it was given," officials of the organization "should be held legally or criminally liable for acting in a fraudulent manner." The survey was commissioned by the plaintiffs in the Robertson v. Princeton University donor intent lawsuit. Source: Zogby International
    • A 2004 public opinion survey conducted by Paul Light, Paulette Goddard Professor of Public Service at New York University's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service – a nonresident senior fellow at The Brookings Institution – found that "Americans continue to express serious doubts about the performance of charitable organizations in exercising their fiduciary responsibilities."
            Source: Brookings Institution