Giving to Health

2017 8.5 2018 7.9

Giving to health includes cash and non-cash donations from itemizing and non-itemizing U.S. households to U.S. health charities, including nonprofit community health centers, hospitals, and nursing homes; organizations focused on the treatment and/or cure of specific diseases; emergency medical services; wellness and health promotion; mental healthcare; health research; and other types of health organizations.

Giving to health is predicted to increase by 8.5% in 2017 and by 7.9% in 2018.*

The current projections for giving to health for the years 2017 and 2018 are higher than the historical 10-year, 25-year, and 40-year average rates of growth for giving of this type.31

Specific factors that will significantly and positively influence health giving in 2017 and 2018 include:

  • Average growth in GDP,
  • Average to above-average growth in household and nonprofit net worth, and
  • Growth in consumer expenditures on healthcare services, nursery school to high school education (above average), and education services (above average).32

The above factors account for the majority of the predicted growth in giving to health in these years. The positive relationship between health and education spending and giving to health is complicated. There have been no significant statistical differences found between giving to health and giving to education among different age groups.33 Moreover, research has demonstrated that neither health nor education are top giving priorities for particular age groups among the general population. Nonetheless, spending on health and education comprises relatively large percentages of households’ annual budgets, depending on the age of the household head or household composition. The higher level of household expenditures on health and education may influence household gifts to organizations within these subsectors.

The amount that consumers spend on out-of-pocket healthcare costs rises with age.34 The oldest age groups (65 and older) spend five-to-one the average amount that the youngest group (under 25) spends on healthcare. In addition, more than 12% of annual household expenditures, on average, among those older households goes to healthcare. Conversely, younger households with children under the age of 18 spend an average of 18% of total child-rearing expenses on childcare and education.35 It may be, then, that each of these types of households responds similarly during more positive economic times both in terms of their educational and health spending, respectively, and their philanthropy.

* All growth rates are based on predictions for giving in inflation-adjusted 2015 dollars using 2016 as the base year. The Philanthropy Outlook projects the growth rates of variables into 2017 and 2018; predicted growth rates are compared with the variables’ historical 10-, 25-, and 40-year annualized means. See Table 1 for these data.