Trends in Philanthropy: Global Giving

Author National Philanthropic Trust

August 24, 2015

For a long time, donors supported charities that were close to home or with which they were very familiar, like their alma mater or religious institution. Now, donors are giving globally, supporting issues that go beyond their community.

International disaster relief, such as recovery efforts from the Haiti earthquake in 2010 or the Japanese earthquake in 2011, attracts immediate support from charitable Americans. In 2014, Americans donated $15.1 billion to international affairs, which represents four percent of total giving. This figure is down slightly from the prior year, but there is no doubt charitable giving across borders has increased substantially. Just five years ago, Americans gave $8.9 billion to international affairs.

International giving is also made easier by certain types of giving vehicles. For example, many charities that manage DAFs (like NPT) provide direct foreign grant services. If a donor’s charitable interests lie overseas, they can respond as easily and quickly as they give to a charity in their hometown.

The 24-hour news cycle, from both traditional and social media, are often what spurs donors to action. Reports on natural disasters or pressing political or social issues around the globe bring other countries and cultures into our living rooms and onto our phones and kick the American giving impuls into gear. In an increasingly global society, international giving is a trend that is here to stay.