The Giving USA report looks back at 2019 giving, which informs our look forward.


Giving to charitable causes in 2019 hit an all-time high at $449 Billion, up 4.2% or 2.4% adjusted for inflation from 2018, according to Giving USA, the organization that tracks the data annually.

The Community Foundation and its consulting partner, The Alford Group, presented the 2019 Giving USA data in a Webinar on July 21. A panel of local experts, including philanthropist, Julie Fisher Cummings, Quantum Foundation CEO, Eric Kelly, fundraising "pracademic" from The Fundraising School at the Indiana University Lilly School of Philanthropy, Dr. Sarah K. Nathan, and Alliance Bernstein wealth advisor, Brian Wodar, discussed data and trends in local philanthropy.

A recap on the data:

Individuals make up the primary sources of funds given to charities at 69%. Foundations gave 17%, bequests 10%, and Corporations 5% in 2019. These funds were distributed to a wide variety of nonprofit organizations. A large percentage (29%) of gifts went to religious organizations, 14% to education, 12% to human services organizations, 12% to grantmaking foundations, and the remainder to health, public society benefit, arts, environment, animals, and international affairs.

As the panel discussed the future of philanthropy, they all agreed we are in uncertain times. Historically, the best predictors of philanthropy are gross domestic product, personal income growth, and stock market performance. While all have dramatically decreased due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some panelists were optimistic about a quick recovery.

A recap on our panelists' views:

Fisher Cummings expressed the importance of equity, diversity, and inclusion. She shared how we must put more focus on bringing our community around these issues locally.

Kelly shared how Quantum Foundation is working to address pressing community issues "upstream and downstream" by creating lasting solutions to the problems plaguing our area, as well as addressing current needs.

Nathan reminded organizations to focus on reaching individual donors with your case and cause, especially as your funding needs increase.

Lastly, Wodar reported seeing two specific behaviors from his clients. Some are pulling back on their giving and waiting until the economy improves. Others realize that these unprecedented times warrant exceptional giving.

Thank you again to all our panelists and attendees.