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Giving USA 2024: The Annual Report on Philanthropy

Key findings from Giving USA 2024: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2023, released today, report that individuals, bequests, foundations, and corporations gave an estimated $557.16 billion to U.S. charities in 2023.

Virtuous is a proud member of The Giving Institute and the Giving USA community. Every year, the Giving USA report sheds light on the state of philanthropy in the United States. The numbers themselves are interesting, but for most nonprofits, the most important question is: What should I do with this data? Before we jump into potential next steps for your fundraising efforts, let’s dive into the data.

Total giving grew 1.9% in current dollars, reaching a new high by that measure. Nevertheless, growth in total giving did not outpace the higher-than-average (4.1%) inflation rate. Adjusted for inflation, giving declined by 2.1%. The stock market and GDP buoyed the increase in current dollars—both performed better than many economists initially expected in 2023. However, total giving has yet to surpass the all-time inflation-adjusted high set in 2021. 

This decline in giving, compared to inflation, underscores the urgent need for nonprofits to build stronger personal relationships with their donors to increase average gift size and improve donor retention. While the news isn’t all bad, the largely flat fundraising year means that only the top-performing nonprofits have maintained their growth rate. 

Below are some of the key findings and analyses from the 2024 report. 

For more insights, register for our upcoming webinar on Tuesday, July 9, featuring T. Clay Buck from TCB Fundraising, Barbara O’Reilly from Windmill Hill Consulting, Cherian Koshy from Kindsight, and Erik Tomalis from Virtuous.

Giving USA 2024 charitable contributions by source

Charitable Giving Totaled $557.16 Billion in 2023

After a tumultuous 2022, total giving growth in 2023 may indicate positive signs in the nonprofit sector. 

Total giving remains above pre-pandemic levels, even when adjusted for inflation.

The COVID-19 pandemic significantly disrupted nonprofits’ operations, complicating their ability to provide services, increasing demand, and creating new constituent needs.

Key takeaways from 2023 include:

  • Giving reached a high in current dollars but did not outpace inflation
  • When adjusted for inflation, 2021 remains the best year of giving on record
  • Giving by individuals is shrinking as a share of giving over time
  • Giving by foundations has grown from 6% of the total to 19% of the total in the past 40 years

Though it may not be evident from the report, the slow move from individual giving to foundation giving is related to a shift in how wealthy donors give. There has been a consistent shift from “checking account giving” to foundation giving and/or donor-advised fund giving for higher-capacity donors. Rather than declining individual giving on aggregate, we are more likely to see a shift in how large donors choose to execute their philanthropy.

Giving USA 2024 total giving from 1983 to 2023 in billions

Sources of Giving Had Mixed Results

In 2023, all four giving sources—individuals, corporations, foundations, and bequests—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. Bequest giving tends to be more volatile due to large bequests in one year that may not appear in subsequent years.

SourceUp/DownAmountAdjusted for Inflation
Total⬆️1.9%$557.16 billion⬇️2.1%
Individuals⬆️1.6%$374.40 billion⬇️2.4%
Foundations⬆️1.7%$103.53 billion⬇️2.3%
Bequests⬆️4.8%$42.68 billionFlat at 0.6%
Corporations⬆️3.0%$36.55 billion⬇️1.1%

When we compare these four giving sources—individuals, corporations, foundations, and bequests—from forty years ago to today, it looks drastically different.

Giving USA 2024 chart comparison of giving sources 1983-2023

Individual Giving

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

After a tumultuous 2022, economic factors performed well in 2023, though these economic factors have not yet exceeded 2021 levels in inflation-adjusted terms:

  • Disposable personal income grew 8.1% in current dollars (3.8% adjusted for inflation)
  • S&P 500 grew 24.2% in current dollars (19.3% adjusted for inflation)
  • Consumer spending (personal consumption expenditure) grew 6.0% (1.9% adjusted for inflation)

Despite the economic climate dampening giving amounts, individual donors remain

generous. Fewer donors contributing larger gifts continue to be the trend in giving by individuals and families, and megagifts continue to dominate headlines. However, there is promising growth in mid-level donors and recurring donors as steady, renewable sources of revenue for nonprofits. 

Although individual donors give to advance the work of nonprofits they support, many have also identified a feeling of fulfillment and the sense of joining others who share their values and charitable priorities as motivations to give. 

Despite this deep personal driver for giving, studies show that donors at all levels are cutting back or choosing to discontinue their giving due to personal financial uncertainty. 

In light of a mixed economic climate and giving trends, it is important for nonprofits to consider the following:

  • Focus on improving donor retention rates. Retaining current donors is more cost-effective and can increase regular supporters’ giving over time.
  • Engaging and maintaining positive relationships is a priority. Stay in touch with your core group of loyal mid-level and larger donors as you seek increased support from lower-level and first-time donors.
  • Remember that all giving is deeply personal. Review your donor engagement strategies to ensure that your communications and outreach foster appreciation and dialogue and appeal to the individual impact of your donors’ giving. In other words, treat every donor like a major donor.
  • Donors have many choices for giving and staying connected with your organization. Effective fundraising is multichannel. According to a multi-channel donor study conducted in conjunction with NextAfter, “Multi-channel donors — those who give both online and offline — are worth three times more than online-only or offline-only donors, and their first-year donor retention rate is two times higher.” In other words, connecting with your donors via email, mail, SMS, and in-person is a critical strategy for driving increased giving.
  • Connect donors directly to the impact of your organization by closing the loop on the impact of their gift. Clearly showing donors how their dollars drive meaningful change creates loyalty and sacrificial giving, even during economic downturns.

Learn more about how Virtuous can help increase giving and improve donor retention. Schedule a demo now.

Giving USA 2024 giving by individuals graph 2019-2023

Contributions by Destination

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. Giving to religion and international affairs declined adjusted for inflation, at 1.0% and 1.6%, respectively.

Giving USA 2024 Contributions of destination graph

The giving segments that grew the most in 2023 are often associated with wealthy donors. Giving to education, foundations, public society benefits, and arts/culture and humanities all experienced double-digit growth in current dollars. Giving to education and the arts reached record highs, even when adjusted for inflation, and donors continue to support grantmaking organizations at high levels.

Giving USA 2024 giving to select recipient organizations, 2022-2023 graph

Foundation Giving

Record-level foundation assets in 2023 bode well for increased foundation giving in 2024 and 2025, as foundations generally plan grantmaking based on a three-year rolling average of asset values. Organizations should position themselves to take advantage of opportunities for grant funding. 

Giving by foundations crossed the $100 billion mark for the second consecutive year:

  • Market growth in four of the last five years boosted giving by foundations
  • Giving by foundations reached the second-highest level on record when adjusted for inflation
Giving USA 2024 foundation giving 2019-2023 graph

Bequest Giving

The time is now for promoting bequests. All organizations, including smaller charities, should be able to use some key strategies to ensure successful bequest campaigns. Demographic and economic factors indicate that bequests will continue to be essential to giving going forward.

The growth in bequests seen in 2023 likely reflects demographic shifts:

Giving USA 2024 giving by bequests 1983-2023 graph

About Virtuous

Virtuous is the leading provider of Responsive Fundraising software dedicated to empowering nonprofits with modern and innovative tools specifically designed to increase generosity by building more personal relationships with donors. Tens of thousands of nonprofit professionals use Virtuous CRM, marketing tools, and analytics solutions. Nonprofits using Virtuous software have seen significant increases in donor retention and average gift size while reducing administrative expenses. Virtuous has made the Inc. 5000 list for two years in a row, has been recognized as a Leader in the G2 Nonprofit CRM grid, and has been named one of Inc. Magazine’s 2023 Best Places to Work. For more information, visit virtuous.org.

About Giving USA Foundation™

The Giving USA Foundation was established in 1985 by The Giving Institute. Today, the Giving Institute continues to provide financial support, expertise, and volunteer leadership to the Foundation and works in partnership with it to advance the field of generosity and to promote community excellence, and diversity and inclusion in the field.

For more than 65 years, Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy in America has provided comprehensive charitable giving data that are relied on by donors, fundraisers, and nonprofit leaders. The research in this annual report estimates all giving to charitable organizations across the United States. Giving USA is a public outreach initiative of Giving USA Foundation and is researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IU Indianapolis. Giving USA Foundation, established in 1985 by The Giving Institute, endeavors to advance philanthropy through research and education. Explore Giving USA products and resources at www.givingusa.org.

About The Giving Institute

The Giving Institute, the parent organization of Giving USA Foundation, consists of member organizations that have embraced and embodied the core values of ethics, excellence, and leadership in advancing philanthropy. Serving clients of every size and purpose, from local institutions to international organizations, The Giving Institute member organizations embrace the highest ethical standards and maintain a strict code of fair practices. For information on selecting fundraising counsel, visit www.givinginstitute.org.

* Some Portions Provided by Giving USA Editorial Review Board members Angela White, Barbara O’Reilly, and Carl Hamm

What you should do now

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See the Virtuous platform in action.  Schedule a call with our team for personalized answers and expert advice on transforming your nonprofit with donor management software.

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Virtuous Once Again Named a Leader in the G2 Summer Grid Report for 2024

Virtuous Once Again Named a Leader in the G2 Summer Grid Report for 2024

We are thrilled to announce that Virtuous has once again been recognized as a category leader by G2 in its Summer 2024 Grid Report, winning 13 badges. This report is…

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