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U.S. Charitable Giving Surpassed $240 Billion In 2003

(June 21, 2004) American individuals, estates, foundations and corporations gave an estimated $240.72 billion to charitable causes in 2003, according to Giving USA 2004, a study released by the Giving USA Foundation.

Giving in 2003 increased by a relatively robust 2.8 percent from the revised level of $234.09 billion in 2002. Since 2001, total annual giving had grown, on average, by only 0.5 percent each year.

Similar to the AFP State of Fundraising Survey, the Giving USA survey asked charities how their fundraising totals in 2003 compared to the previous year. Fifty-five percent of responding charities reported an increase in charitable contributions compared to 2002, while 8 percent reported virtually no change and 37 percent saw a decline in gifts.

These figures are comparable to those seen in AFP's State of Fundraising 2003 survey, where 53 percent raised more money, 20 percent raised approximately the same, and 27 raised fewer funds.

Breaking Out the Numbers

The Giving USA 2004 survey looks at total giving based on the source of contributions. In 2003:

  • Individuals gave $179.36 billion, an increase of 2.5 percent (0.2 adjusted for inflation) from the revised 2002 figure of $175.04 billion. Giving from individuals represented 74.5 percent of all giving in 2003.
  • Bequests reached an estimated $21.60 billion, an increase of 12.8 percent (10.3 percent adjusted for inflation) from the 2002 revised estimate of $19.15 billion. Bequests accounted for 8.2 percent of all giving in 2003.
  • Foundations gave $26.30 billion, a decrease of 2.5 percent (4.7 percent adjusted for inflation). Giving by foundations represented 10.9 percent of all contributions in 2003. Foundation estimates were provided by the Foundation Center.
  • Corporations and corporate foundations gave $13.46 billion in both cash and in-kind donations, an increase of 4.2 percent (1.9 percent adjusted for inflation) from the revised 2002 figure of $12.92 billion. Corporate and corporate foundation giving represented 5.6 percent of all giving in 2003.

The survey also examined how the various charitable subsectors fared during the year. In 2003:

  • Religious organizations received $86.39 billion, an increase of 4.3 percent (2.0 percent adjusted for inflation) from 2002. Giving to religious organizations represents nearly 36 percent of total contributions, the largest of any of the subsectors.
  • Educational institutions received $31.59 billion, a decrease of 0.8 percent (3.0 percent adjusted for inflation).
  • Health organizations received $20.89 billion, an increase of 10.7 percent (8.2 percent adjusted for inflation).
  • Human service organizations received $18.89 billion, an increase of 1.3 percent (but a decrease of 1.0 percent when adjusted for inflation).
  • Arts, culture and humanities organizations received $13.11 billion, an increase of 7.3 percent (4.9 percent adjusted for inflation). This is the highest rate of growth for this subsector since 1996.
  • Public society-benefit organizations received $12.13 billion, an increase of 4.6 percent (2.3 percent adjusted for inflation) after two prior years of declines.
  • Environmental/animal organizations received $6.95 billion, an increase of 5.4 percent (3.1 percent adjusted for inflation).
  • International affairs organizations received $5.30 billion, an increase of 14.8 percent (12.1 percent adjusted for inflation).

Giving USA 2004 was researched and written by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. The Giving USA Foundation is the business name of the AAFRC Trust for Philanthropy, which is the educational and research initiative of the American Association of Fundraising Counsel (AAFRC).

Giving USA's annual estimates are based on original survey of organizations and econometric studies using tax data, government estimates for economic indicators and information from other research institutions. For more information, go to www.aafrc.org.

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