According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy and Giving USA, philanthropy in America for 2017 hit a record high and continues to break records. “Powered by a booming stock market and a strong economy, charitable giving by American individuals, bequests, foundations and corporations to U.S. charities surged to an estimated $410.02 billion in 2017, according to Giving USA 2018: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2017″ 

Philanthropy in America

Philanthropy will always go on, but during times of economic prosperity, giving throughout history has increased. Aggie Sweeney, chair of the Giving USA Foundation, said “As people have more resources available, they are choosing to use them to make a difference.”  When people have more, they give more. Giving to the arts has increased in 2017 by 8.7 percent to over $19 billion dollars. Giving to education in 2017 is almost $59 billion dollars. This spells great news for speakers and artists who want to use their creativity for the greater good.

Researchers from the Indiana University Lilly Family of Philanthropy found that giving rose by at least 5% in three of the four categories they polled — corporations (8%), foundations (6%), and individuals (5%). Among all groups, foundations had the largest increase in donations, increasing by 15.5%.

Tax benefits of philanthropy

Even though charitable giving should be altruistic, there are many tax benefits to it as well. In 1917 tax code changes allowed tax payers to deduct up to 15% of their taxable income when they donated to charitable causes, such as charities for the poor, scientific study, and arts and education.

Changes in the tax code allowed corporations to deduct charitable contributions up to 5 percent of taxable income. Now most major corporations have a corporate foundation, and charitable obligations to society have become an expected part of doing business.

Throughout history, people have used philanthropy to gain prestige, power and recognition. In David Callahan’s book “The Givers: Wealth, Power and Philanthropy in a New Gilded Age”, he shines a light on the new generation of top mega philanthropists and how they’re using their philanthropy for power and influence. Whatever reason they’re doing it, it still benefits speakers and artists. Those entrepreneurial artists who know how to partner with philanthropists will not only help advance their own careers quickly, but will also become a part of a growing social movement to better their own communities.

The Gilded Age

Andrew Carnegie, one of the most high profile philanthropists of the Gilded Age, said “it is more difficult to give money away intelligently than to earn it in the first place.” He put his own money where his mouth was and gave away 90 percent of his fortune in his lifetime. He also encouraged other wealthy Americans to follow him in giving their money away to improve society.

Like Carnegie, today’s philanthropists know that it isn’t just about writing a check. It’s about using that money wisely to produce the best possible outcomes for society. This is why speakers and artists need to learn the business side, as well as the creative side.

Grants for speakers and artists

An important piece of the patronage partnership is grants. Philanthropists want to improve the human condition and make a positive change to society through their contributions. They are always looking for new and unique ways to improve their communities. Socrates said that the act of giving away his thoughts in his speech was his philanthropy, and Plato left his farm to a nephew with instructions to use the profits from the harvest to help the students and the teachers at the school he started.

Speakers and artists who can align themselves with a worthy cause and partner with philanthropic entities can literally create their own “jobs” and use their creative voice and passion to make the world a better place.