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Unpacking the Basics of Giving USA Statistics

Facts are important in fundraising campaigns, and in all areas of work and life for that matter. They set the stage and provide a solid foundation for the topic being discussed. During the pre-campaign stage of a capital campaign, some of the first educational facts we cover with our clients and volunteers are the Giving USA statistics.


The following overview is a critical view provided annually by the Giving USA Foundation, The Giving Institute, and the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. This analysis covers. “Where are all of the charitable dollars going?” and “Where did the generosity come from in terms of donors?”


Most of our clients are surprised, even shocked, when they discover that the largest contributions come from individuals. In 2018, $410 billion was given in the U.S. Roughly $286 billion was given by individuals compared to giving by foundations, which totaled slightly more than $66 billion. Equally important to who are the strongest groups of contributors is the understanding of where the charitable dollars going. Here is a breakdown from 2019:

  • 31% Religion

  • 14% Education

  • 12% Human Services

  • 11% Foundations

  • 9% Health

  • 7% Public-Society Benefit

  • 5% Arts, Culture, and Humanities

  • 6% International Affairs

  • 4% Environment/Animals

  • 2% Individuals

While foundations are critical to the nation’s giving, they are not leading the charge, which is why our process is so important to the success of any project. Foundations are incredibly important, but the power of a community rallying behind a cause should never be underestimated.


The three phases of any campaign led by Crescendo sets a strong rationale that is carried through the entire process, including the:

  1. Campaign Readiness Study Summit. - This critical element lays the foundation and strategy for the pre-campaign and campaign phases.

  2. Pre-Campaign - This prepares the foundation for a successful campaign. This phase is the most time intensive and is designed to create credibility and excitement toward the reaching the fundraising goal.

  3. Capital Campaign - With careful management, this phase is carefully monitored to continue providing urgency and momentum until the goal is reached.

Our consultants offer a process-oriented approach to capital campaign management and fundraising training and coaching. Our education in philanthropy and development, fundraising, marketing and public relations is enhanced by natural interpersonal skills and years of experience bringing many stakeholders together around a common cause. Crescendo’s trademark is forging community partnerships by facilitating involvement and creating ownership in a cause or mission. Interested in learning more? Give us a call today. We’d love to learn more about your project!

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