Year after year, more charitable giving happens in December than in any other month. This statistic shows how societal, economic, and cultural forces shape charitable giving and how understanding these forces can help us maximize charitable giving through policy.
By Shena Ashley, Urban Institute
While updating our individual giving statistics dashboard, compiled from several sources and reports, we noticed three important trends in charitable giving from 2018 that we’ll watch next year and beyond.
1. The share of noncash asset donations is increasing significantly
Noncash donations, which include appreciated assets like publicly traded securities, restricted stock, real estate, private equity, collectibles and artwork, and cryptocurrency, has sharply increased as a share of itemized contributions. The latest available IRS data from 2016 shows that noncash contributions totaled $79.5 billion, or 34 percent of all itemized charitable contributions, an increase from $49 billion in tax year 2014.
Some of this growth is likely connected to the increased use of donor-advised funds, which allows donors to set up funds at community foundations or charities, receive a tax deduction, and recommend how grants from the fund should be rewarded. Between 2016 and 2017, the reported value of contributions to donor-advised funds increased by $1 billion.
Why are donor-advised funds so appealing? Their main draw may be their capacity to help donors convert noncash investments into tax-effective charitable contributions.