Charitable giving grew only incrementally during the first half of 2016, at $241.3 billion and up only 0.9 percent from contribution levels during the same period last year, according to the latest report by Atlas of Giving.
The report credits this nearly flat level of growth to economic uncertainty and the upcoming presidential elections, which make donors less eager to embrace new philanthropic commitments. However, not all issue areas are affected equally. Gifts to religious causes, which account for a third of total giving, are down 1.1 percent, while donations to environmental causes, a category that only receives 2 percent of all donations, grew by 3.9 percent. Foundations are also awarding more grant dollars (up by 3.3 percent), partly due to positive returns from their investment portfolios in the last few years.
Forecasters are cautiously optimistic about the remainder of 2016, and expect total contributions to reach $488.3 billion, an increase of 2.1 percent over donations made last year.
Atlas of Giving is a Dallas-based forecasting group that publishes a monthly measurement and forecast of charitable giving by sector, source, and state in the U.S. Read more in the Philanthropy News Digest.