The Pentera Blog

More Nonprofits Receive Planned Gifts, with Small Estates Leading the Way, Says Giving USA™

More nonprofits than ever are receiving planned gifts - especially from small estates - according to the Giving USA™ 2018 report released earlier this year. The report recommends that "intentional strategies should be developed to encourage not only major donors but annual donors to consider bequests. "

Giving USA™ is an annual report written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. In addition to the section on giving by bequest, the report discusses giving by individuals, corporations, and foundations. It also discusses nine different sectors that receive contributions. Overall, giving by Americans surpassed $400 billion for the first time in 2017.

Giving by small estates is way up

The latest report found that bequest giving in 2017 increased just 2.3% over the previous year, less than any of the other sources of giving. But gifts from estates with assets of less than $1 million went up 10.9% - one of the highest increases of any type of giving. That significant increase led to the recommendation that nonprofits encourage their annual donors with modest estates to make bequests.

At the same time that there was an increase in bequest dollars from small estates, there was a decline in bequest giving by medium-sized estates (valued between $1 million and $5 million). There was virtually no change in giving by large estates (worth more than $5 million).

Change in Bequest Giving from 2016 to 2017 by Size of Estate
Source: Giving USA™

The largest bequest of the year - $850 million - was by Pittsburgh businessman Henry Hillman, who left much of his estate to several local charities.

Many more nonprofits are receiving planned gifts

The Giving USA™ report also cites a survey by the Nonprofit Research Collaborative which found that 84% of responding organizations received a planned gift in 2017. That is a significant increase from the 69% that reported receiving a planned gift the year before.

In addition, 57% of the nonprofits said they received more money from planned gifts in 2017 in comparison with the previous year.

Percent of Nonprofits Receiving a Planned Gift, by Year
Source: Nonprofit Research Collaborative

An executive summary of Giving USA™ 2018 - including a link to purchase the full report - can be found here.