Total charitable impact


An Increasingly Complex Charitable Giving Landscape

October 22, 2019

A new report published by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI and funded by a grant from The Vanguard Charitable Philanthropic Impact Fund analyzes effects of the 2008 Great Recession on charitable giving across various donor demographic groups and examines differences pre- and post-recession. The report offers key insights for nonprofits and donors as they face new and evolving factors affecting the philanthropic sector in the United States.

Changes to the Giving Landscape finds that the average amount given by donor households remained relatively constant over time, despite the economic downturn. However, the recession fueled a 13 percentage point decrease in the share of U.S. households who gave to charity between 2000 and 2016. This decline in the overall share of households who gave represents 20 million fewer donor households. The report also examines in depth the percent of income households gave.

The empirical analysis in this paper draws on a unique longitudinal data source – the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy’s Philanthropy Panel Study (PPS), a module within the University of Michigan’s Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID). The PPS tracks the same 9,000+ families’ charitable giving biennially.

To read the full report visit: or email Adriene Davis Kalugyer at