Good news from the latest Giving USA's report: in 2015 charitable donations in the United States amounted to $373.25 billion. That means Americans donated over $1 billion per day, on average.
This makes 2015 America’s “most generous year ever,” as various sources have noted.
Well, sort of.
Yes. Total giving in 2015 grew 4.0 percent (when adjusted for inflation) as compared to last year. And that’s very good news. But in order to evaluate the course of philanthropy and the measure of American generosity, the more precise metric has to do with its percentage of the country’s overall GDP.
In this regard, American charitable giving has not increased significantly since the 1970’s, hovering at around a stubborn 2 percent of GDP for all these years. In 2015, charitable giving accounted for 2.1 percent of GDP, the same as in 2014.
In other words, overall giving might have increased because of growing incomes and not because Americans are feeling particularly moved to give a larger share of their wealth.