Digging in to giving trends in California and across the nation

Lisa Barr
Lisa Barr 
Senior Development Officer 

Each June, the nonprofit sector eagerly awaits the release of Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy. The Giving Institute and Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy jointly publish this report, the longest-running and most comprehensive analysis of giving trends in the U.S. The report, released June 15, 2017, observes total giving in calendar year 2016 of 53 million households, 16 million corporations and 82,000 foundations in the U.S.

Campbell & Company, a national fundraising consulting firm, hosted a series of free webinars on Giving USA 2017, including a discussion on giving trends specific to California. I served as one of three panelists along with:

Leveraging their unique subject area expertise and geographic span from SoCal to NorCal, the panelists were asked to offer insights on whether and how their organizations’ 2016 fundraising experiences aligned with the Giving USA 2017 findings. In California, 2016 saw increases in giving to foundations, as well as to environmental and health-related organizations. The panelists brought unique perspectives on key insights from the 2017 report:

Giving to foundations

In the Giving USA 2017 infographic below, donations to organizations like SVCF are represented by the cause area described as giving to foundations. Fundraising by all foundations – community foundations, private foundations and others – totaled $40.56 billion in 2016, representing 10% of all giving. SVCF’s total 2016 fundraising of $1.4 billion represents 3.5% of giving to all 82,000 U.S. foundations!

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Giving Trends graphic


Saving the environment and animals

Of the $390 billion contributed in 2016, giving to environment and animal organizations received a total of $11 billion. While this represents just 3 percent of all giving, organizations of this kind saw one of the largest increases in giving compared to all other cause areas, 7.2 percent. Laurin noted that the Sierra Club saw increases in giving across individuals, corporations and foundations in 2016. Since November 2016, Sierra Club has added 40,000 new monthly donors, many of whom practiced “rage philanthropy” in response to the presidential election.

Supporting health-related causes

Healthcare organizations rank No. 5 of all causes, receiving $33 billion in 2016. Like environment and animals, health-related organizations have seen significant growth in 2016, with total giving up 5.7 percent over 2015. Joe shared that his team’s fundraising for the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center mirrored this growth and has seen “grateful patient” giving on an upward trajectory since the 2008 recession.

Explore SVCF's grants catalogue

For only the sixth time in the past 40 years(!), Giving USA 2017 reports that all nine major philanthropic subsectors saw year-over-year increases in giving. Curious how giving from SVCF compares? Explore our Giving Catalog to see which organizations received more than $1.31 billion in grants from all SVCF funds in 2016. You can sort by cause area, geography and fund type to see where dollars went to support a diverse array of causes – from health to environment and animals – and everything in between, in California and around the world!