What Has Led to Record Growth in Charitable Giving?

by Joe Martin

posted on 12-19-2016

For me, the best part of the holidays is the way we treat each other. During this month, it seems easier to allow people to get in front of us while driving, to give to the homeless person on the corner, and to look for opportunities to serve in general.

According to a recent study from the Adobe Digital Insights (ADI) team, consumer participation in “Giving Tuesday” — the Tuesday after Thanksgiving — is on the rise, with charity sites seeing a 39 percent higher number of visits on that day versus the rest of the holiday season.

The Growth of Charitable Giving
During the holidays, charitable giving represented roughly 33 percent of yearly donations in 2015, according to ADI, and total giving to charitable organizations was $373 billion. That marks six consecutive years of growth in charitable contributions. Several factors have led to this record growth, including:

1. Better Economic Times
For the most part, individuals have led the charge in donating to charities. Seventy-one percent of charitable giving in 2015 was from individuals. In fact, Charity Navigator notes that, since 2009, the average increase in giving to charitable causes (3.6 percent) is greater than the growth of gross domestic product (GDP; 2 percent). This demonstrates that, when the country does well, the nonprofits are big beneficiaries.

2. Corporate Matching Programs
Adobe, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and many others offer corporate matching programs. For instance, if I donate $100 to a charity, Adobe matches it, making my total donation $200. The same Charity Navigator report reveals that, in 2015, corporations donated $18.45 billion to charities. We have also seen a lot of public support for existing charities akin to what the National Football League (NFL) has done to raise money for breast cancer. In 2009, the NFL started supporting Breast Cancer Awareness month and has raised over $15 million. Corporate employee-matching programs and support for charities publicly helps to lead a culture of giving, both within the workplace and the communities they support.

3. Holiday Spirit
There may not be data to support it — and I LOVE data — but there is something special about the culture of giving during the holidays. The Christmas trees and lights in businesses and homes, as well as the people serving in hospitals, shelters, food kitchens, and food banks, help to ground me in the community in which I live and unite our modern society in ways unlike the rest of the year. From company holiday parties to charitable giving among neighbors — these all lead to a palpable spirit of helping others during this short time each year.

As Adobe employees, we have the opportunity to support local communities throughout the rest of the year, including during Movember and breast cancer awareness campaigns, giving thousands of hours of service during the Week of Caring (6000+ in our Utah office alone) and supporting hundreds of children this holiday season through the Sub 4 Santa program. I love the culture of service and community outreach that this creates.

My Challenge for You
With just a week left until Christmas, I challenge everyone to volunteer some time to help a cause you believe in. Some of my favorite causes and charities to support during the holidays are local food banks, like the @utahfoodbank (where I live), @nokidhungry, #ShareKindness, #holidaytroops, and @michaeljfoxorg, since my Mom was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.

Buy a present for a loved one, serve in your local homeless shelter, or donate to your favorite charity. Through all our efforts, we will continue to see the growth of charitable donations exceed that of GDP — and with a little extra holiday spirit, you *may* see yourself using a wave instead of a bird the next time someone merges into your lane on the freeway.

Happy Holidays!

Topics: Trends & Research