According to the “Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2018”, Americans gave approximately $427.71 billion to charities in 2018. While the total number of dollars donated increased by 0.7% over tax year 2017, overall charitable giving actually fell 1.7% when adjusting for inflation.

Now, it can be difficult to imagine how much money a billion dollars actually is, so here’s a good way to imagine it: If a million dollars is 12 days, then a billion dollars is 31 years. Despite the downturn in total value donated, 427.71 billion dollars is still a staggering amount of donations.

The report noted two very interesting details relevant to clergy. First, that gift-giving by individuals was down 3.4% in 2018 (adjusted for inflation). And second, that giving to religion declined an estimated 3.9% in 2018 (also adjusted for inflation).

Potential reasons for the decline in personal giving in 2018 could include economic instability from trade wars, a volatile stock market, and an increased standard deduction that has removed some incentive for individuals to donate as much to charities. According to Giving USA, “tax policy changes may have created uncertainty for some donors, especially those who previously itemized but no longer will”.

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Clergy Financial Resources serves as a resource for clients to help analyze the complexity of clergy tax law, church payroll & HR issues. Our professionals are committed to helping clients stay informed about tax news, developments and trends in various specialty areas.

This article is intended to provide readers with guidance in tax matters. The article does not constitute, and should not be treated as professional advice regarding the use of any particular tax technique. Every effort has been made to assure the accuracy of the information. Clergy Financial Resources and the author do not assume responsibility for any individual’s reliance upon the information provided in the article. Readers should independently verify all information before applying it to a particular fact situation, and should independently determine the impact of any particular tax planning technique. If you are seeking legal advice, you are encouraged to consult an attorney.

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