Americans love to give. A centuries-old philanthropical urge is going nowhere, with individual donations peaking in 2017 at over $420 billion. A slight dip in 2018 has been attributed to a change to the tax code, which made it more difficult for US donors to deduct their charitable donations.
Perhaps surprisingly, the greatest growth over this time comes from individual contributions. Corporate giving has barely changed over the decades, even as the general public grows warier of institutions and big business. (Reputation management, if it ever worked, doesn’t seem to be having the desired effect.) Instead, it’s wealthy individuals who are making the greatest impact. For the most part, they’re doing it while they’re still alive, instead of making bequests in their will.