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Can We Raise the 2 Percent?

Bill High

Bill High

April 28, 2016

There are some rosy numbers out there for the giving world. For example, in 2015, The Atlas for Giving predicted giving to be at a total of $442 billion. While this is a healthy number, it actually is a decrease.

Here’s the head scratcher—giving remains at 2 percent of GDP and has been that way for the past 40 years.  Put differently, no matter the times, no matter how well the stock market does, no matter how much incomes rise, giving as an overall percentage of the wallet has remained the same.

That flat giving percentage puzzles me, since more charities have entered the fray. There is more visibility to needs in the community, and there’s more ways to give than ever before.  Yet giving still remains fixed at 2 percent of GDP.

This issue is starting to gain more attention.  In 2013, the Chronicle of Philanthropy called it “The Stubborn 2 percent Giving Rate,” and noted that if everyone gave up a morning coffee, then $220 billion more would go to charity annually.  Ray Gary, CEO of, addressed the issue again at the 2016 Association of Fundraising Professionals Conference, and a recent article by Jay Love, CEO of Bloomerang, raises the same question of “Ways we can raise Charitable Giving as a Percent of GDP.”

Why do we want giving as a percentage of GDP to go up?  It’s simple.  As giving goes up, more people get helped.  More people get reached.  More people get fed.  Our world gets better.  And let’s not forget the clear statistical research of the intrinsic benefits of generosity to the giver—those who give generously are more likely to be happier, healthier, and stronger in relationships and community.

So let’s raise the 2 percent!  What are your ideas on how we can raise it?

About Bill High

Bill High

Bill High is the Founder of The Signatry. His mission is to empower families in building multi–generational legacies of generosity. Bill works with families, individual givers and financial advisors, with expertise in guiding business owners looking to sell or transition their business to the next generation.

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