Data for Good

The Dynamics of Charitable Giving

The fourth edition of Donation Insights offers additional insight on when people give and the impact of the proposed tax reform plan and natural disasters that occurred in the United States in 2017.

The Dynamics of Charitable Giving

June 12, 2018

Nonprofit organizations are continually faced with the challenge of increasing donations, but often do not have the access or tools which enable them to better understand individual giving trends. In an effort to bridge this information gap, the Center has released the fourth edition of Donation Insights, a step forward in addressing the information gap facing organizations working on the frontlines of social good.

In this edition, we provide new insights not only on how, when and where people give, but also on the impact of the proposed tax reform plan and natural disasters that occurred in the United States in 2017. Additionally, we reveal factors contributing to changes in category growth and underlying trends in online versus in-person donations with regional comparisons on total donation contributions.

Donation Insights uses anonymized and aggregated Mastercard transaction data to provide an analysis of current and historical donation trends. An open-source dataset consists of monthly data for total donations with a breakout for nine categories, such as education, environmental, health and human services, to name a few.

Key insights include:

Growth in giving has slowed: Total donation growth shrank to 4.4% in 2017 compared to 5.9% in 2016. Categories with the strongest growth were: Public Safety, Disaster Preparedness & Relief, Housing and Environmental and Animal-Related Causes.

Donations spiked for disaster relief: The unprecedented damage from 2017’s natural disasters correlates with sharp donation spikes in the Public Safety, Disaster Preparedness & Relief category.

The tax reform plan had no effect on donations: Despite reports of experts recommending taxpayers donate prior to the end of the year to take advantage of deduction benefits, there was no discernible lift in donations in December 2017.

In addition to the report, we provide the underlying charitable donation dataset based on anonymized and aggregated Mastercard transaction data. By making the report and dataset available, the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth is working to help organizations better understand trends in individual donations, as well as develop insights around the forces that impact giving.

Click here to download your complete copy of Donation Insights.

Please join our effort to bridge the information gap by reviewing our report, analyzing our downloadable dataset and sharing your learnings and questions with us at

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