Americans are still generous beyond comparison, and despite the media painting them as materialistic and self-absorbed, statistics from the Giving USA Foundation prove otherwise.
The Foundation reported that Americans gave $390 billion to charity last year. And most surprisingly the majority of givers are not corporations, but individuals. The report states that of the $390 billion, $282 billion was from individuals. The remainder was donated from estates, foundations and corporations. This is only the sixth time in 40 years that every major category received an increase in donations.
In a year where Americans faced turbulent times, such as one of the most contested U.S. elections, a shocking nightclub shooting, race-based violence, and a water crisis, Americans stepped up and put their money where their hearts were. They donated generously to the causes that they believed in. According to CNBC, Americans donated 3 percent more than in 2015, and the 50 largest gifts amounted to $5.6 billion in 2016. Although the American wealthy do account for a large portion of the gifts, Giving USA said that there were larger numbers of small donations from Americans who were not wealthy, indicating that Americans believe that giving forms an essential component of their lives.
The chair of Giving USA Foundation, Aggie Sweeney, broke down the statistics. She said that despite 2016 being riddled with uncertainty both economically and politically, there was an increase in giving in each sector.
The major categories still received the most donations with religion remaining the top choice for Americans to give their money to. The category of religious giving increased by 3 percent in 2016, with a total of $123 billion given to religious charities. Receiving only half the donations that religion inspires, Americans gave educational charities $59.8 billion. However, donations to the education sector increased by 3.6 percent. The third largest category for donations was human services which received an increase of 4 percent to $46.8 billion, while health charities received a major boost of $33.1 billion, a whopping increase of 5.7 percent. Arts and culture charities received $18.2 billion which amounts to an increase of 6.4 percent, and international affairs charities received a 4.6 percent increase in their donated income to $22 billion. Environmental and animal organizations had the biggest percentage increase in charity donations, they reported a 7 percent increase to $11 billion.
“Americans remained generous in 2016, despite it being a year punctuated by economic and political uncertainty.”
“We saw growth in every major sector, indicating the resilience of philanthropy and diverse motivations of donors.”
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