Findings among new GenerosityForLife.org resources for families, nonprofits, teachers from Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy
The percent of U.S. households that donated to support arts, environment and international charities held steady between 2000 and 2016 as other types of causes experienced significant declines, new GenerosityForLife research by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI finds.
The report provides key insights for donors, fundraisers and nonprofits about 21st century philanthropy. Funded by a grant from The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, it is part of the school’s interactive GenerosityForLife.org website, which offers research and resources on charitable giving and a multifaceted look at families’ generosity over time.
The new research compares the share of Americans who gave to various types of nonprofits in 2000 to the same information about 2016, the latest year for which household giving data are available. Researchers explored these giving participation rates—as well as average amounts given—for each charitable subsector, analyzing the percent of households that gave to the arts & culture, environment, international aid, religious organizations, neighborhood & community, youth, education, basic needs, health and combined purpose charities. Differences in giving to these types of charity by age group also were examined.
By delving more deeply into Americans’ giving to the various types of charities, the report expands upon the findings of another recent study from the school, which found that a significantly smaller percentage of U.S. households gave to charity overall in 2016 compared to 2000. However, households that continued to give gave about the same average amount in both years (adjusted for inflation), with the amount given to secular causes remaining stable and the amount given to religious organizations increasing significantly. Both studies analyze data from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy’s Philanthropy Panel Study (PPS).
Among the new report’s key findings:
• No charitable subsectors saw a significant increase in the share of households giving to them in 2016 compared to 2000. The percentage of Americans giving to the arts, environment, and international causes remained steady between the two time frames.
• All other subsectors experienced significant decreases in giving participation in 2016 compared to 2000. The largest percentage declines were among religious congregations, combined purpose charities, health nonprofits and basic needs organizations.
• Religious congregations and neighborhood and community organizations experienced significant increases in the average amount donors contributed (rising $363 and $105, respectively, adjusted for inflation) in 2016 compared to 2000. Average amounts given to the other subsectors remained steady, and no subsectors experienced declines between the two time frames.
• All five age groups analyzed saw a significant decline in the overall percentage of households that gave in 2016 compared to in 2000. However, no age group significantly decreased its average dollar amounts given between the two time frames.
• Religious organizations remain an important destination for many donors. In 2016, among all of the subsectors the youngest Americans (age 30 or younger; i.e., younger Millennials) were most likely to give to religious congregations: 10.9% of younger Millennials gave to this type of charity, followed by the 9.6% of them who gave to basic needs nonprofits. The youngest donors also gave the largest dollar amount, on average, to these two types of organizations: $1,412 and $349 respectively, adjusted for inflation. Younger Millennials were least likely to give to international aid nonprofits (1.7%) and gave their smallest average gift to arts & culture organizations ($74).
• The second youngest age group (age 31-40; i.e., older Millennials and late Gen Xers) were also most likely to give to religious congregations (22.6%) and basic needs (19.0%). Their largest average gifts were to religious congregations ($2,371) and combined purpose charities ($724). Older Millennials were least likely to give to neighborhood & community organizations (1.9%) and gave their smallest average gift to environmental organizations ($182).
The study’s findings for these and other age groups are discussed in the full report.
The declines in participation rates and average amounts given revealed by the study can be partially attributed to a number of factors that affected charitable giving, researchers said, such as the Great Recession, demographic shifts and declining religiosity in the U.S. Technological innovations also likely have influenced how and when Americans give to charitable organizations.
Visitors to GenerosityForLife.org can use the site’s Give-O-Meter to compare their giving and volunteering to others who are in the same region of the country, income bracket or age. They also can explore giving with the Generosity Reports and Generosity Maps tools, discover current research about generosity, craft student projects and lesson plans, watch donors’ videos about why they give, and learn about the school’s Philanthropy Panel Study (PPS), which powers the data and information on the site, among other activities. Fact sheets detail household giving data overall and for each type of charity. New videos describe the GenerosityForLife project and highlight other interesting research findings developed by project grantees. Visit http://generosityforlife.org/ for these and other resources.
“GenerosityForLife.org makes information about giving accessible and easy to use for the public, including families, teachers, donors, nonprofits and scholars. We hope its tools and resources strengthen understanding of Americans’ giving and inspire new generations to engage and help others,” said Una Osili, Ph.D., associate dean for research and international programs at the school. “GenerosityForLife illustrates that philanthropy is for everyone – anyone can be a philanthropist.”
About the report
The empirical analysis in this paper draws on a unique longitudinal data source – the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy’s Philanthropy Panel Study (PPS), a module within the University of Michigan’s Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID). The PPS tracks the same 9,000+ families’ charitable giving biennially. The PPS is the best resource for measuring charitable giving and volunteering by the general U.S. population, accurately representing households up to the 97th percentile of income and closely mirroring results from the U.S. Census Bureau for all other socio-demographic variables. To ensure that the sample remains representative, refresher samples of respondents have been added over time. The data allow researchers to examine the influence of economic and demographic factors on generosity. The PPS is a critical resource illuminating how demographic shifts may influence generosity trends across generations now and in the future.
About the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy
The Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI is dedicated to improving philanthropy to improve the world by training and empowering students and professionals to be innovators and leaders who create positive and lasting change. The school offers a comprehensive approach to philanthropy through its academic, research and international programs and through The Fund Raising School, Lake Institute on Faith & Giving, the Mays Family Institute on Diverse Philanthropy and the Women’s Philanthropy Institute. Follow us on Twitter @IUPhilanthropy or “Like” us on Facebook.