Last year was the best ever in charitable giving, with Americans donating $358 billion in 2014.
Donations surpassed pre-recession levels in the U.S. as Americans gave an estimated $358 billion to charities in 2014 – up nearly $47 billion from donations given in 2007, according to the annual Giving USA Foundation report based on tax returns and other data collected by researchers at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University.
Several large charities noted that when people feel good about the economy, they give across the board. So-called “mega gifts” – single donations by wealthy individuals that exceed $200 million – saw a marked increase last year. Bill and Melinda Gates gave almost $2 billion to the Gates Foundation in addition to an increase in young, tech entrepreneurs joining the elite ranks of philanthropy.
“Much of that increase that we’re seeing is based really on what was a healthier economy as we came out of the Great Recession,” Keith Curtis, of Giving USA, told National Public Radio. “Some of them are young and they’re making those decisions to give back; and when they’re giving, they’re giving significant gifts.”
Total donations increased by 7.1 percent from 2013 to 2014, according to the Giving USA report.