Charitable Giving Rose 4 Percent in 2011, 'Giving USA' Finds

Charitable Giving Rose 4 Percent in 2011, 'Giving USA' Finds

Total charitable contributions by individuals, corporations, and foundations was an estimated $298.42 billion in 2011, up 4 percent in current dollars and 0.9 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars from a revised total of $286.91 billion in 2010, a new report from the Giving USA Foundation and the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University finds.

According to the 57th annual Giving USA report, giving by individuals rose an estimated 3.9 percent (.08 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars), to $217.79 billion, in 2011. As has been the case since Giving USA first began to look at charitable contributions in 1955, it also accounted for the vast majority (73 percent) of total giving — a level that jumps to 88 percent when giving by family foundations is factored in. As a percentage of disposable income, individual giving held steady in 2011 at 1.9 percent.

The report also found that grantmaking by private, community, and operating rose 1.8 percent (a decline of 1.3 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars), to $41.67 billion, and that gifts from estates rose 12.2 percent (8.8 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars), to $24.41 billion. Giving by corporations, on the other hand, remained flat, down 0.1 percent (3.1 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars), to $14.55 billion.

According to the report, estimated giving to religious organizations fell 1.7 percent (4.7 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars), to $95.88 billion. But, as is typically the case, religious organizations continued to receive the largest share of charitable contributions in terms of recipient category. Religion was followed by education, which received an estimated $38.87 billion in contributions, human services ($35.39 billion), health ($24.75 billion), arts and culture ($13.12 billion), and animal welfare and the environment ($7.81 billion). The report also found that giving to foundations fell some 6.1 percent (8.9 precent in inflation-adjusted dollars), to an estimated $25.83 billion, while giving to international affairs organizations rose 7.6 percent (4.4 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars), to $22.68 billion.

"The estimates for giving in 2011 are encouraging, but they demonstrate that charities still face ongoing challenges," said Center on Philanthropy executive director Patrick M. Rooney. "In the past two years charitable giving has experienced its second slowest recovery following any recession since 1971."