USA Charitable Giving is NOT All About Grants?!?!

Jul 11, 2024 | Grant Writing

an arm and hand holding a $50 bill with the words "GIVING USA" written underneath

It happens every year, but I still get excited about it. A family cookout?  Poolside lounging? A beach trip? A mountain getaway? Nope. I’m talking about the annual June release of charitable giving trends from Giving USA and the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

The Giving USA 2024 report, based on 2023 data, is not just a collection of numbers. It’s a treasure trove of valuable insights into charitable giving trends in the United States. More importantly, it’s a key to understanding how grants and fundraising work together.

Sharing this data with your program or finance director, your executive director (ED), board members, or clients is a great way to nudge the conversation away from “grants, grants, grants” and towards a more well-rounded approach.

By looking at the big picture of giving, you drive discussions about strategy in grants, individual giving, and special events and ultimately make more informed choices about how to best pursue those fundraising dollars.

Here are the key takeaways, but Amanda and I do a deeper dive in the latest episode of the Fundraising HayDay Podcast HERE:

  • Total charitable giving in 2023: $557.6 billion
  • Adjusted for inflation, giving declined by 2.1%
  • Individual giving accounts for 67% of total donations
  • Grants represent 19% of charitable contributions
  • Religious causes receive 24% of donations, the largest share
  • Human services and education each receive 14% of donations
  • Donor-advised funds are a growing trend in charitable giving

The fine print…

In 2023, Americans contributed $557.6 billion to charitable causes. However, when adjusted for the 4.1% inflation rate, this represents a 2.1% decline in giving. While I wouldn’t say this is excellent news, it is something to consider when drafting grant narratives or fundraising emails. On the very positive side, these 2023 numbers point to a level of generosity that is often buried under polarizing news and misinformation.

Individual giving remains the primary source of charitable donations, accounting for 67% of the total. Grants follow at 19%, with bequests and corporate giving at 8% and 7%, respectively. This breakdown emphasizes the importance of cultivating individual donors alongside pursuing grant opportunities.

Religious organizations received the largest share of donations at 24%, followed by human services and education, each at 14%. These figures can help nonprofits understand where funding is flowing and potentially identify growth opportunities.

The report also notes the rise of donor-advised funds as a popular giving vehicle, although one with significant drawbacks for the nonprofit recipients.  I will neither confirm nor deny that there is a rant on this very topic in our podcast episode HERE.

Remember, while these trends provide a general overview, each organization’s specific circumstances may vary. Use this information as a starting point for discussions about your nonprofit’s fundraising approach and how it aligns with national patterns.

What surprised you or bothered you about this year’s giving statistics? Email me at and tell me all about it.

Kimberly Hays de Muga
Fundraising HayDay

A podcast about grants & such.

Check out all our episodes, and don’t miss any new ones, by subscribing on Apple Podcasts or Spotify today!

Spotify Podcast button.
Apple Podcast button.

Latest Episode