Donations to charity nationally and on Long Island were relatively...

Donations to charity nationally and on Long Island were relatively flat, comparing 2022 to 2023, a study said. Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto/donald_gruener

Charitable giving nationally topped $557 billion in 2023, increasing just under 2% over the prior year in current dollars, but the boost could not keep up with inflation or surpass the inflation-adjusted high of giving reached in 2021.

When adjusted for inflation, that figure represents a 2.1% decrease.

Still, experts said, the state of philanthropy in the country remained “robust” and “resilient,” despite fears that the spike that occurred during the pandemic years would not last, according to a new study.

And locally, an official with the New York Community Trust, Long Island office, highlighted a boost in charitable giving to Long Island nonprofits in 2023 over the prior year. Overall giving — which includes donations to national and international organizations — was flat, according to the office's executive director.

“The takeaway is giving does seem to be at a place that is still robust and larger than it was before the pandemic. There had been some concern that the increase in giving during the pandemic would not last,” said Jon Bergdoll, associate director of data and partnerships at Indiana University's Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, which researched and wrote the Giving USA 2024: Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2023.

Giving USA Foundation, established by The Giving Institute in 1985, publishes the annual report. 

“The pandemic years were extremely robust years of giving,” Bergdoll said. “For 2020 and 2021, giving is up in real terms fueled by pandemic-related need and a robust [stock] market.”

He added 2021 was the “highest year of giving,” which totaled $621.29 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars, up 10.2% from 2020, which was $563.86 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars, according to Giving USA data. 

Bergdoll said contributions in 2022 was a “dire year because of high inflation.” He said “2023 saw a rebound.”

Laura MacDonald, immediate past president of Giving USA Foundation, said the report indicates philanthropic giving was “resilient and dynamic. Resilient, in that it has held pretty steady at around 2% of GDP [gross domestic product], despite various economic and social headwinds. Dynamic because even as the top number shows resilience, we see changes in the sources and uses of giving below the surface.”

MacDonald said there have been shifts. She said “it used to be that giving from individual donors typically represented more than 70% of total charitable giving.” While individual donors account for the largest share of contributions, the 2023 report shows their share dropped to 67%, providing $374.40 billion.

Bergdoll cited statistics showing the next largest contributor, after individuals, was foundations, accounting for 17% of giving, or $103.53 billion; followed by bequests, at 8%, or $42.68 billion; and 7% from corporations, or $26.55 billion. (Due to rounding, the percentages add up to 101%).

The category of religion received the largest share of charitable dollars, representing 24%, or $145.81 billion in 2023, according to the report. However, experts said that share has been declining. 

“If you go back to 1983, giving to religion represented more than half of all gifts, almost exclusively to houses of worship,” MacDonald said. “The other thing we know, since the start of this century, about 20 million households have stopped attending worship services regularly. There's a strong correlation between attending regularly and giving to your church.” 

Still, donations to religion continued to go up — by 3.1% in 2023 — but “other sectors have increased more rapidly,” MacDonald said.

Assessing charitable donations on Long Island, David Okorn, executive director of the former Long Island Community Foundation, which last month changed its name to the New York Community Trust, Long Island office, held up a “silver lining.”

“When I look at my donor giving from Long Island advise funds to all nonprofits — those on Long Island and elsewhere across the country or internationally — in 2022, it was basically $5.3 million and in 2023, it was $5.4 million. So basically, that stayed with the national trend, it was flat. If it included inflation, it would be down,” Okorn said.

But, Okorn continued, the “silver lining” was in contributions made to Long Island nonprofits from donor advise funds: $3.8 million in 2022, rising to $4.5 million in 2023. Donor advise funds are created by donors to use for charitable giving. Okorn said of the donor advise funds: “They make recommendations to us on who they want to grant to, then we vet the organization.”

“So that piece increased by $700,000. What this tells me is generous Long Islanders really kind of bucked the trend of overall donor giving being flat, by increasing to Long Island nonprofits,” Okorn said. “They did more locally in 2023 than they had done the prior year.”

In addition to money it manages from individuals' donor advise funds, Okorn said the trust also makes competitive grants of its own out of its endowment to Long Island nonprofits. The Long Island office of the trust, in both 2022 and 2023, gave out about $5.5 million each year, “so that was flat.”

Locally, Okorn said the sector that received the largest share of the trust's competitive grants was conservation and the environment, at 22%; followed by health and mental health, 15%; education received 13% and addressing hunger received 11%.

Charitable giving nationally topped $557 billion in 2023, increasing just under 2% over the prior year in current dollars, but the boost could not keep up with inflation or surpass the inflation-adjusted high of giving reached in 2021.

When adjusted for inflation, that figure represents a 2.1% decrease.

Still, experts said, the state of philanthropy in the country remained “robust” and “resilient,” despite fears that the spike that occurred during the pandemic years would not last, according to a new study.

And locally, an official with the New York Community Trust, Long Island office, highlighted a boost in charitable giving to Long Island nonprofits in 2023 over the prior year. Overall giving — which includes donations to national and international organizations — was flat, according to the office's executive director.

    WHAT TO KNOW

  • Charitable giving in the United States increased by 1.9% over the prior year, a new study shows.
  • Experts say the figures show such giving is still robust, although not as high as during the pandemic years.
  • Long Island charitable giving, reported separately, was also relatively flat, although donations to nonprofits were up.

“The takeaway is giving does seem to be at a place that is still robust and larger than it was before the pandemic. There had been some concern that the increase in giving during the pandemic would not last,” said Jon Bergdoll, associate director of data and partnerships at Indiana University's Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, which researched and wrote the Giving USA 2024: Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2023.

Giving USA Foundation, established by The Giving Institute in 1985, publishes the annual report. 

“The pandemic years were extremely robust years of giving,” Bergdoll said. “For 2020 and 2021, giving is up in real terms fueled by pandemic-related need and a robust [stock] market.”

He added 2021 was the “highest year of giving,” which totaled $621.29 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars, up 10.2% from 2020, which was $563.86 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars, according to Giving USA data. 

Bergdoll said contributions in 2022 was a “dire year because of high inflation.” He said “2023 saw a rebound.”

Laura MacDonald, immediate past president of Giving USA Foundation, said the report indicates philanthropic giving was “resilient and dynamic. Resilient, in that it has held pretty steady at around 2% of GDP [gross domestic product], despite various economic and social headwinds. Dynamic because even as the top number shows resilience, we see changes in the sources and uses of giving below the surface.”

MacDonald said there have been shifts. She said “it used to be that giving from individual donors typically represented more than 70% of total charitable giving.” While individual donors account for the largest share of contributions, the 2023 report shows their share dropped to 67%, providing $374.40 billion.

Bergdoll cited statistics showing the next largest contributor, after individuals, was foundations, accounting for 17% of giving, or $103.53 billion; followed by bequests, at 8%, or $42.68 billion; and 7% from corporations, or $26.55 billion. (Due to rounding, the percentages add up to 101%).

The category of religion received the largest share of charitable dollars, representing 24%, or $145.81 billion in 2023, according to the report. However, experts said that share has been declining. 

“If you go back to 1983, giving to religion represented more than half of all gifts, almost exclusively to houses of worship,” MacDonald said. “The other thing we know, since the start of this century, about 20 million households have stopped attending worship services regularly. There's a strong correlation between attending regularly and giving to your church.” 

Still, donations to religion continued to go up — by 3.1% in 2023 — but “other sectors have increased more rapidly,” MacDonald said.

Assessing charitable donations on Long Island, David Okorn, executive director of the former Long Island Community Foundation, which last month changed its name to the New York Community Trust, Long Island office, held up a “silver lining.”

“When I look at my donor giving from Long Island advise funds to all nonprofits — those on Long Island and elsewhere across the country or internationally — in 2022, it was basically $5.3 million and in 2023, it was $5.4 million. So basically, that stayed with the national trend, it was flat. If it included inflation, it would be down,” Okorn said.

But, Okorn continued, the “silver lining” was in contributions made to Long Island nonprofits from donor advise funds: $3.8 million in 2022, rising to $4.5 million in 2023. Donor advise funds are created by donors to use for charitable giving. Okorn said of the donor advise funds: “They make recommendations to us on who they want to grant to, then we vet the organization.”

“So that piece increased by $700,000. What this tells me is generous Long Islanders really kind of bucked the trend of overall donor giving being flat, by increasing to Long Island nonprofits,” Okorn said. “They did more locally in 2023 than they had done the prior year.”

In addition to money it manages from individuals' donor advise funds, Okorn said the trust also makes competitive grants of its own out of its endowment to Long Island nonprofits. The Long Island office of the trust, in both 2022 and 2023, gave out about $5.5 million each year, “so that was flat.”

Locally, Okorn said the sector that received the largest share of the trust's competitive grants was conservation and the environment, at 22%; followed by health and mental health, 15%; education received 13% and addressing hunger received 11%.

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