By Sarah Ruef-Lindquist
According to Giving USA 2017, philanthropy grew to a record $390.05 billion in 2016 to U.S. charitable organizations, 2.7% more than 2015, another record-setting year. It may have helped that personal consumption and disposable income were up by almost 4%, and that the S&P ended the year 9.5% higher than it began, despite a politically tumultuous year. The annual report is an ongoing collaboration of the Giving USA Foundation, the Giving Institute and the Lily Family School of Philanthropy.
Here in Maine, we don’t have the 2016 data just yet, but the most recent Giving in Maine 2017 Report shows that individual giving in 2014 was over $451 million, up about 4% from the previous year.
Many years, Maine falls into the bottom 3 or 4 states in terms of total annual charitable giving. But Mainers are generous when it comes to making gifts to charities through their estates. Maybe they can’t afford to share more of their wealth while they are alive, but when they’re gone, they remember their favorite community organizations as if they were a member of the family.
Looking deeper into the data over the past 7 annual reports, Mainers have giving almost $800 million to charity through their estates or bequests, an average of $100million per year, according to the Maine Philanthropy Center’s reports. While the dollars may be fewer in comparison to many other states, the average frequency of estates making gifts to charity is often higher. Data collected by the Maine Philanthropy Center has shown that 27% of taxable estates in Maine – versus 20% nationally – make charitable gifts. That’s a significant number, and speaks to the thoughtful generosity of people who care deeply about their communities, making gifts when it makes sense for them. That’s good news for Maine non-profits.