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Citizenship

Americans Gave $410 Billion to Charity in 2017, Breaking Record

By Joanna Prisco

While Americans may have felt divided across many political issues over the last year, a recent report reveals they were united in at least one magnanimous effort.  

Philanthropy by “American individuals, bequests, foundations, and corporations to US charities surged to an estimated $410.02 billion in 2017,” setting a new all-time record, according to the report “Giving USA 2018: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2017.”

Giving previously amounted to $389.64 billion in 2016.

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“Americans’ record-breaking charitable giving in 2017 demonstrates that even in divisive times our commitment to philanthropy is solid,” said Aggie Sweeney chair of Giving USA Foundation, in a statement released by The Giving Institute. “As people have more resources available, they are choosing to use them to make a difference, pushing giving over $400 billion.”

The report attributed at least a portion of the the surge in donations to favorable economic conditions and a “booming” stock market. Other factors, such as personal income and personal consumption, also played a role.

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“The increase in giving in 2017 was generated in part by increases in the stock market, as evidenced by the nearly 20 percent growth in the S&P 500,”  said Amir Pasic, Ph.D., the Eugene R. Tempel dean of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. “Investment returns funded multiple very large gifts, most of which were given by individuals to their foundations, including two gifts of $1 billion or more.”

Some of the most notable donations falling under that description came from major philanthropists, such as Michael and Susan Dell and Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan.

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But the array of designations were vibrant, spanning  a variety of causes such as religion,education, human resources,health organizations,public-society benefit organizations, arts and culture, international affairs, and environmental organizations.

Again, the largest number of donations ($45.89 billion) were given to foundations.

“Contributions went up nearly across the board,” noted Sweeney, “signaling that Americans seem to be giving according to their beliefs and interests, which are diverse and wide-ranging.”

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