Giving USA released its report on 2018 giving yesterday. The organization found that charitable giving in the United States dropped 1.7% in 2018 to $428 billion (down from $435 billion in 2017). This ended four years of growth in charitable giving. The report also noted that a drop in giving is relatively uncommon, with this being only the 13th decline in the past forty years. The report speculated that giving may have decreased due to an erratic stock market (the Dow took a deep dive last December during the height of the giving season) or changes in the tax laws, but was uncertain of the ultimate cause.

Overall, giving by individuals continues to lead the way with over $292 billion donated by individuals in 2018 (68% of the total). Corporations gave nearly 5% of the total and Foundations gave nearly 18% of the total. The remaining gifts were bequests. Similar to past years, the bulk of giving went to religious causes (29%), education (14%) and human services (12%).

Although giving across the country took a small dip, my anecdotal experience tells me that giving remains very strong in West Michigan. This may be due to several factors including a more diversified economic base, a stronger culture of philanthropy, and a very professional nonprofit community that does an exceptional job of fundraising. While the rest of the country experienced a dip, here are some examples of significant fundraising success closer to home over the past 18 months:

D.A. Blodgett-St. John’s raised over $7 million for a campus consolidation.

Grand Rapids Community College raised over $12 million for facility improvements and student scholarships.

Prevention Works raised over $2 million for a new home and program investment.

Artists Creating Together exceeded their $1 million campaign goal.

The Ada Library and Community Center and Riverfront Park campaign raised over $7 million.

The Kalamazoo Gospel Mission exceeded their $4 million campaign goal.

These examples just scratch the surface. There are many more examples of local successes.

This should give West Michigan nonprofit leaders a sense of hope and optimism for the future. Giving remains very strong locally.