You know about Black Friday and Cyber Monday – but are you aware of Giving Tuesday? Giving Tuesday is a recent invention – so recent, it is often preceded with a hashtag. It was started in 2012 on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving and has been gaining in popularity as a symbol of charity to counteract the excess commercialism of the start of the holiday shopping season.

Will Giving Tuesday catch on? So far, the results are promising. The Giving Tuesday donations in 2013 were up by 90% over the initial event in 2012, and kept growing by nearly 63% in 2014, 155% in 2015, and 52% in 2016.

Regardless of the effects of Giving Tuesday, charitable giving is making an overall recovery after the hit it took during the Great Recession. Here are a few facts about America's charitable giving.

  • Total Giving in Dollars – Charity Navigator notes that total gifts to charity in 2013 reached over $335 billion, continuing the trend for four straight years of increased giving with a 4.4% jump. Record-setting giving in 2014 ($358.38 billion), 2015 ($373.25 billion), and 2016 ($390.05 billion) beat the pre-recession (2007) mark of $349.5 billion.

  • Total of Giving Households – According to the National Philanthropic Trust (NPT), the vast majority of us participate in some sort of charitable giving – a whopping 91% of high net worth households in 2016. Many of these contributions are small, but the average household contribution is a respectable $2,520.

  • People Outgive Corporations – Individual spirit still drives our charity. 72% of our giving ($281.86 billion) came from individuals in 2016, with the remainder contributed by foundations, bequests, and corporations (15%, 8%, and 5% respectively).
  • When Do We Give? – According to the BlackBaud 2016 Charitable Giving Report, about one-third of charitable giving takes place in the last quarter of the year. December alone accounted for 18% of the total in 2016. We assume that is likely due to the combination of reminders of need during the holiday season (such as Giving Tuesday), increased solicitations, and maximizing charitable tax deductions before the year’s end.

  • Online Giving On the Rise – The ease of online giving may be helping charitable efforts. It is certainly claiming a greater share of giving, totaling 7.2% of all charitable giving.

  • Many Choices – Can't find a charitable organization that you like? If so, you are not trying very hard. In 2015, there were over 1.5 million charitable organizations to choose from, according to NPT. Maybe you are just having trouble making up your mind….

  • America the Charitably Predictable – Americans predictably give around 3% of their collective income to charity. We have done so for decades, according to Charity Navigator.

  • Charity and Stocks – NPT adds another unusual but understandable correlation. Charitable giving tends to increase at around one-third the rate of the stock market – which should make for a banner year in 2017.

If you had donated recently, thanks for your efforts. No matter what size or to what organization, it is another step toward addressing needs worldwide.

If you have not participated in charitable giving, it is not too late to join in the fun. Please give whatever you can, and feel the satisfaction that comes with helping those in need.

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Photo ©iStockphoto.com/CatLane

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