Research & Reports

Findings: CCS Fundraising’s Snapshot of Today’s Philanthropic Landscape Report,

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The eighth edition of CCS Fundraising's Snapshot of Today’s Philanthropic Landscape report, a comprehensive compilation of the most recent philanthropic data from major sources in the industry,  offers details on giving sources, a look at online giving and generational tendencies, as well as a multi-year view of philanthropic trends.

It is intended to serve as an overview of recent philanthropic activity in the United States.

Here are a few of the report’s highlights:

Changes in Giving

  • In 2018, giving reached $427.71 billion after breaking $400 billion for the first time in history in 2017.
  • While individual giving fell below 70 percent of total giving for the first time since 1954, foundation giving increased the most of all sources.
  • For the first time, giving to religious organizations fell below 30 percent of the total. While giving in this sector declined, it is still the largest sector by a wide margin.
  • International affairs and environmental & animal welfare organizations saw the largest increase in giving, at 9.6 percent and 3.6 percent respectively. This may be because these are popular causes among younger generations.

Current Unique Trends in Giving


  • 83 percent of total giving is coming from 20 percent of the population, and only 1 percent of the population is providing 49 percent of total giving. This highlights the influence that high net worth donors have, as well as the need to create strategies around developing and maintaining relationships with them. 
  • 90 percent of high net worth households donated to charity in 2017.
  • 47 percent of the world’s ultra-high net worth individuals are in the U.S.
  • 24 percent of high net worth individuals serve on the board of a nonprofit organization.
  • Nearly 2 in 3 charitable dollars came from Baby Boomers and Generation X.
  • Millennials are more likely than older donors to support new causes. Forty-eight percent increased the number of charities they supported in 2017, compared with 26 percent of middle-aged donors and 19 percent of those over 65.


  • More Americans are volunteering. The volunteer rate in 2018 was 30.3 percent and in 2016 it was 24.9 percent, an increase of 21.7 percent.
  • Of those who volunteered, 80 percent also donated.
  • Generation X is taking a larger role in volunteering and charitable giving.
  • 79 percent of volunteers are female.

Shift in Giving

  • While individual giving decreased, giving by foundations saw a significant increase. Foundation giving reached $75.9 billion and showed the highest increase of all sources at 7.3 percent. Part of the reason for this is that major donors and high net worth individuals are directing more of their giving into vehicles like donor-advised funds (DAFs) and private family foundations.
  • While the number of DAFs has quickly outpaced private foundations, growing by 60.2 percent between 2016 and 2017, the assets held by private foundations have grown at a faster rate. Additionally, the amount granted by DAFs represents about 40 percent of the grants made by private foundations. 

To learn more and to see extensive data about topics such as high net worth, online, and corporate giving, please download the full report from the CCS Fundraising website.

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