Charitable Recap for 2014 Positive; 2015 Forecast, Less So

Tiles spelling "donate" set on dollar bill

Charitable giving in 2014 was up, but that trend may not last through 2015.
Image: Shutterstock

According to a report from the Chronicle of Philanthropy on the top 50 American donors to nonprofits, donations in the philanthropic world of 2014 were positive and plentiful. The takeaways:


  • Donations from the top 50 philanthropists of 2014 were up 27.5% from donations in 2013, reaching $9.8 billion. Some donors credited the recovering economy with their ability to donate more this year.
  • More technology entrepreneurs, often younger than 40, were on the list. The biggest donors of 2014, who gave more than $500 million apiece, were Jan Koum, founder of the messaging company WhatsApp; Sean Parker, former Facebook president and the founder of Napster; and Nicholas and Jill Woodman, who founded the camera company GoPro. Nine other top donors came from the tech industry as well.
  • More gifts–$6.9 billion—went to foundations. While some say this was so that wealthy donors could get tax breaks, others suggest that it was simply a matter of this sort of donation being simpler.
  • Gifts totaling $1.6 billion went toward scientific research in 2014.

Initial forecasts for 2015 are not looking quite as rosy, however. The Atlas of Giving says its preliminary research suggests that charitable giving will fall by more than 3% this year to $442.1 billion despite growth of more than 9% in 2014. The organization makes these claims based on a team of 25 mathematicians using 65 economic algorithms, suggesting that stock market declines, weak European economies, an increase in interest rates, and low income may all lead to this decline.

Other fundraisers are skeptical, however, saying that it’s far too early in the year to predict how things will go.


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