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We’ve long known that ours is a very generous, other-centered, philanthropic community. But now—thanks to a survey conducted by Indiana University’s Lilly School of Philanthropy on behalf of The Chicago Community Trust (the Trust)—we know that our community is at the national epicenter of philanthropy. No hyperbole.

“Chicagoans are generous…significantly more generous than the national average—by some measures as much as 50 percent more,” Terry Mazany, President and CEO of the Trust, says. For example, average household giving in the rest of the country is 2 percent of income. In Chicago, it is 3.1 percent.

In advance of its 100th Anniversary this year, the Trust commissioned the study to benchmark the giving of time, talent and money in Chicago’s six-county region. It hoped to use this information to make Chicago the most philanthropic region in the country. What the study proved, however, is that Chicago is already the most philanthropic region in the country!

Chicago households not only donate a higher percentage of income, they volunteer a greater percentage of time. On average, those with high household incomes (above $200,000) volunteer the most and give more money. The data shows that Chicago corporations and foundations are exceptionally generous, too. For instance, 97 percent (68 out of 70) of the corporations who responded to the survey donate dollars, talent and employee hours.

Importantly, the data provides hard evidence that Chicagoans care a lot about each other. As Daniel Ash, Trust Director Of Marketing, explains, “Basic Human Needs is one of the highest giving categories in Chicago. This illustrates that Chicagoans take care of one another and this is something we should all be proud of!”

The preponderance of high-income households, corporate headquarters and foundations in Chicagoland are located in the city along the lakefront and throughout the North Shore. Because this is also our Make It Better footprint, I believe it’s safe to say that our audience leads the nation in philanthropy.

Specific donation data includes:

  • $10 billion was donated in Chicago in 2013
  • $7.1 billion (71 percent) was donated by households
  • $2.4 billion (24 percent) was donated by foundations and grant making charities (like United Way and JUF)
  • $5 million (5 percent) was donated by corporations and corporate foundations
  • $6.7 billion (67 percent) of that $10 billion stayed in metro Chicago

Household giving – top categories receiving donations as reported by high-net-worth households/all other income households:

  • 78 percent / 72 percent basic human needs
  • 60 percent / 44 percent health
  • 57 percent / 60 percent religious purposes
  • 53 percent / 36 percent combined purposes
  • 50 percent / 15 percent higher education
  • 42 percent / 28 percent youth and family services
  • 40 percent / 26 percent education
  • 36 percent / 19 percent arts & culture
  • 26 percent / 21 percent international aid

Household Volunteering:

  • 74 percent of Chicago high-net-worth households volunteer
  • 47 percent of all other Chicago households volunteer

Grant making by foundations, corporations and others in 2012:

  • 2,038 grantmakers gave nearly 39,000 grants of $4000 or more, totaling $2.6 billion
  • 107 grants over $1 million were given, totaling $328 million
  • 1 grant was over $40 million

Top non-corporate foundation grantmakers were:

Chicago Community Trust             $127 million (13 percent)

United Way                                        $33 million (3 percent)

MacArthur Foundation                   $30 million (3 percent)

Five corporate foundation grantmakers accounted for 70 percent of corporate foundation giving:

1. Abbott Fund (40 percent)

2. The Allstate Foundation

3. Motorola Solutions Foundation

4. Illinois Tool Works Foundation

5. Grand Victoria Foundation

Not surprisingly, online giving grew astronomically in the past decade. In 2013, more than 70 percent of high-net-worth households donated online. Therefore, growing online connections should grow more donations too. The study also noted other tools that can help improve future donations. These include improved effectiveness and efficiency reporting, better communications of community needs, and better collaboration to leverage resources.

These conclusions also demonstrate that Make It Better operates at the epicenter of philanthropy. Our well-educated audience lives online, appreciates the power of collaboration and demands data that proves something is effective, efficient and scalable before investing. These traits, combined with our Make It Better footprint, put us at the epicenter of impactful philanthropy.

CCT officially launches its 100th Anniversary celebration on May 12 with their “On The Table” event that brings together people from across the city to share information about their favorite nonprofits and ways to share time, treasure and talent.

To learn more about the study or to download it in its entirety, click here.


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