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Annual U.S. Charitable Giving Exceeds $260 Billion

(June 19, 2006) American donors gave more than $260 billion to charitable causes in 2005, a 6.1 percent increase from 2004, according to the annual report Giving USA.

The report, produced by the Glenview, Ill.-based Giving USA Foundation, indicates that giving from most sources increased in 2005 and most subsectors experienced strong rates of growth.

Overall giving is estimated at $260.28 billion, up from the revised estimate of $245.23 billion in 2004. A minimum of $7.37 billion of that total is believed to have gone to disaster relief in 2005, or roughly 3 percent of all charitable giving during the year. Removing the disaster relief funds from the overall giving totals (and then assuming none of the relief funds would have been given to charity), total giving went up 3.2 percent and actually decreased by 0.2 percent when adjusted for inflation.

The report also found that 59 percent of organizations reported an increase in charitable receipts in 2005, which is the highest percentage of organizations reporting growth since 2000. AFP’s own State of Fundraising 2005 Survey found that 63 percent of U.S. charities raised more money in 2005 than in 2004.

“It’s clear that disaster relief contributions were a big factor in the overall increase in giving in 2005,” said AFP President and CEO Paulette Maehara, CFRE, CAE. “At the same time, Giving USA shows, as does AFP’s State of Fundraising Survey, that certain subsectors performed quite well regardless of the relief efforts. Despite the many challenges that fundraisers faced in 2005, it was generally a good year for most organizations.”

Giving by Source

Individual contributions were, once again, far and away the largest source of charitable contributions: $199.07 billion. This figure represents 76.5 percent of overall giving and is an increase of 6.4 percent from the 2004 total. The report also estimates that individuals gave $5.83 billion to disaster relief.

Foundation grantmaking, the second largest source of contributions, reached $30.0 billion in 2005, a 5.6 percent increase from 2004. Foundation giving represents 11.5 percent of all estimated giving during the year. Foundations made an estimated $160 million in grants for disaster relief in 2005.

Corporate contributions rose 22.5 percent to 13.77 billion, representing 5.3 percent of total giving in 2005. The report identifies strong growth in gross domestic product and corporate profits before taxes as the main reasons for the increase in corporate giving. About $1.38 billion of corporate contributions are estimated to have been given for disaster relief.

In contrast, charitable bequests fell 5.5 percent to $17.44 billion, representing 6.7 percent of total giving in 2005. A steep decline in the number of deaths in 2004, as well as the expectation that the number of deaths in 2005 remained low, are the factors the reports gives to explain the decrease in bequest giving.

Contributions by Subsector

Despite the overall growth in giving, some subsectors did not fare as well as others, and a few even saw slight decreases in giving when contributions were adjusted for inflation.

  • Religious organizations: $93.18 billion, an increase of 5.9 percent from 2004 and 35.8 percent of total giving in 2005.
  • Educational organizations: $38.56 billion, an increase of 13.1 percent from 2004 and 14.8 percent of total giving in 2005.
  • Foundations: $21.70 billion, an increase of 6.8 percent from 2004 and 8.3 percent of total giving in 2005.
  • Health organizations: $22.54 billion, an increase of 2.7 percent from 2004 and 8.7 percent of total giving in 2005.
  • Human service organizations: $25.36 billion, an increase of 32.3 percent from 2004 and 9.7 percent of total giving in 2005. The report notes that at least half of the increase is from contributions for disaster relief.
  • Arts, culture and humanities organizations: $13.51 billion, a decrease of 3.4 percent from 2004 and 5.2 percent of total giving in 2005.
  • Public-society benefit organizations: $14.03 billion, an increase of 8.3 percent from 2004 and 5.4 percent of total giving in 2005.
  • Environment and animal organizations: $8.86 billion, an increase of 16.4 percent from 2004, and 3.4 percent of total giving in 2005.
  • International affairs organizations, including international relief and aid: $6.39 billion, an increase of 19.4 percent from 2004 and 2.5 percent of total giving.
  • Unallocated contributions: $16.5 billion, or 6.2 percent. This category typically includes gifts to newly formed organizations, deductions taken in 2005 for gifts made in prior years, and other technical corrections.

About the Report

Giving USA is a publication of the Giving USA Foundation and is researched and written by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. The foundation was established by the Giving Institute (formerly the American Association of Fund Raising Counsel) to advance research and education in philanthropy.

The complete Giving USA 2006 report, with data covering giving in 2005, will be available in late June 2006. The cost for ordering the report is $70 and can be purchased by either calling (847) 375-4709 or downloading an order form at the Giving Institute website.

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