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Charitable Giving Rises Five Percent in 2004

(June 20, 2005) Charitable Giving in the U.S. exceeded $248 billion in 2004, according to the new Giving USA report.

The total amount of $248.52 billion is the highest amount ever in the U.S. and represents a five percent increase from the revised 2003 figure of $236.73 billion. Adjusted for inflation, giving rose by 2.3 percent - the first positive growth in inflation-adjusted dollars since 2000.

Giving by individuals continued to account for the bulk of all charitable giving (75 percent) in 2004. According to the study, individuals contributed $187.92 billion, a four percent increase from the 2003 figure of $180.58 billion.

The report also shows that the relief efforts for the Southeast Asia tsunami had very little impact on charitable giving in 2004, accounting just for an estimated one-half of one percent of all giving.

'The new Giving USA report confirms what we learned earlier in AFP's State of Fundraising 2004 report,' said AFP President and CEO Paulette Maehara, CFRE, CAE. 'After giving turned the corner in 2003, it continued to grow slowly but steadily throughout 2004. While it wasn't a banner year like those in the late 1990s, many organizations finally saw some positive increases in 2004 after two difficult years.'

In the Giving USA survey, 55 percent of respondents reported an increase in charitable gifts in 2004 compared to 2003. AFP's State of Fundraising 2004 survey found that 65 percent of participating organizations had raised more money in 2004 than in 2003.

Giving by Donor, Practice Setting

Individuals weren't the only ones who increased their giving in 2004. Foundation giving reached $28.80 billion, an increase of 7.3 percent from the 2003 figures. Corporations and corporate foundations also kept pace, contributing an estimated $12.00 billion in cash and in-kind donations (an increase of 7.3 percent from 2003). Finally, 2004 saw additional bequest giving, with bequest totals equaling $19.80 billion, a 9.2 percent increase from 2003.

According to the study, religious organizations received the most contributions by far - $88.30 billion. That figure represents an increase of 4.4 percent from 2003. Giving to religious organizations makes up more than one-third (35.5 percent) of all estimated contributions in the U.S.

With a couple of exceptions, other groups also fared well in 2004:

  • Education: $33.84 billion, an increase of 5.4 percent from 2003. Gifts to educational institutions represent approximately 13.6 percent of all giving.
  • Foundations: $24 billion, an 11 percent increase from 2003 and accounting for 9.7 percent of all gifts in 2004.
  • Health: $21.95 billion, a 5.1 percent increase from 2003 and accounting 8.8 percent of total giving in 2004.
  • Human services: $19.17 billion, a 1.5 percent increase from 2003 and accounting for 7.7 percent of total giving in 2004. Factoring for inflation, giving to human services groups actually declined by 1.1 percent.
  • Arts, culture and humanities: $13.99 billion, a 6.7 percent increase from 2003 and accounting for 5.6 percent of all gifts in 2004.
  • Public-society benefit: $12.96 billion, a 6.8 percent increase from 2003 and accounting for 5.2 percent of total giving in 2004.
  • Environmental/animals: $7.61 billion, a 7 percent increase from 2004 and accounting for 3.1 percent of all gifts in 2004.
  • International affairs: $5.34 billion, a 0.8 percent increase from 2003 (a decrease of 1.8 percent when inflation is factored in) and accounting for 2.1 percent of total contributions.

'The very slow growth for human services organizations was not unexpected,' said Maehara. 'Our own survey showed that human and social services organizations did not perform as well as the U.S. national average, although there were no clear reasons as to why this trend occurred.' Sixty-five percent of all U.S. organizations raised more money in 2004 than in 2003, but only 60 percent of human and social services organizations reported the same.

For More Information

Giving USA is a publication of the Giving USA Foundation and is researched and written by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. The Giving USA Foundation is the business name for the AAFRC Trust for Philanthropy, which is the educational and research initiative of the American Association of Fund Raising Counsel (AAFRC).

The complete Giving USA 2005 report, with data covering 2004, will be available in late June 2005. The cost for ordering the report is $65 and can be purchased on the AAFRC website.

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