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U.S. Charitable Giving Surpassed $300 Billion in 2007

(June 23, 2008) Charitable giving in the United States reached a record high of $306.39 billion, up 3.9 percent from 2006, according to the Giving Foundation’s Giving USA 2008.

Foundation grant making, which made up 12.5 percent of total giving, is the fastest growing source of charitable donations. Gifts to foundations have also been growing in recent years, making up 9.1 percent of total giving in 2007, while individual donations and charitable bequests still make up the bulk of total contributions, at 82.3 percent of total gifts.

Giving USA 2008 shows that a strong start to the economy in 2007 helped lift giving despite worries at year’s end from gasoline prices or the housing and mortgage crises,” said George C. Ruotolo Jr., CFRE, chair of Giving Institute: Leading Consultants to Non-Profits, which founded Giving USA Foundation in 1985, in a press release. “Just as important as the 3.9 percent overall increase is the finding that every subsector (except private foundations) is projected to have seen increases in 2007. This last occurred in 2001.”

The study attributes the 2007 increase to:

  • stock market performance in the first half of the year;
  • overall growth in the economy measured by gross domestic product; and
  • growth in corporate and personal income as reported at the end of the year.

Charitable giving was 2.2 percent of gross domestic product for 2007.

Giving By Source

Giving from individuals, which continued to account for an overwhelming majority of all contributions (74.8 percent), increased by 2.7 to reach an estimated $229.03 billion.

The next biggest source of contributions was foundations, which granted $38.52 billion, an increase of 10.3 percent from 2006. Foundation grant making is a greater percentage of total charitable giving than it has ever been, the study shows.

Charitable bequests rose an estimated 6.9 percent in 2007, after a 7.7 percent drop in 2006, reports Giving USA. And corporate giving, including corporate foundation giving, increased 1.9 percent in 2007, making up 5.1 percent of total giving

Giving by Subsector

Religion was again the largest single recipient of charitable contributions in 2007, making up just over one third (33.4 percent) of total giving.

The next largest benefactors of charitable giving in 2007 were education (14.1 percent), human services (9.7 percent) and foundations (9.1 percent).

Giving to all subsectors rose in 2007, except to foundations. The subsector making the biggest gains in 2007, though, was international affairs, which grew 16.1 percent. Environment/animals grew 10.8 percent, human services 8.4 percent and arts, culture and humanities grew 7.8 percent.

  • Religious organizations: $102.32 billion (33.4 percent of total giving)
  • Educational organizations: $43.32 billion (14.1 percent of total giving)
  • Human service organizations: $29.64 billion (9.7 percent of total giving)
  • Foundations: $27.73 billion (9.1 percent of total giving)
  • Health organizations: $23.15 billion (7.6 percent of total giving)
  • Public-society benefit organizations: $22.65 billion (7.4 percent of total giving)
  • Arts, culture and humanities organizations: $13.67 billion (4.5 percent of total giving)
  • International affairs $13.22 billion, 4.3 percent of total giving
  • Environment and animal organizations: $6.96 billion, 2.3 percent of total giving

About the Report

The complete Giving USA 2008 report, with data covering giving in 2007, will be available in July 2008. The cost for ordering the report is $75 and can be purchased by either calling (847) 375-4709 or downloading an order form at the Giving Institute website.

Giving USA’s annual estimates are based on econometric studies using tax data, government estimates for economic indicators, and information from other research institutions. Sources of data used in the estimates include the Internal Revenue Service, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Foundation Center, Independent Sector, Council for Aid to Education, National Center for Charitable Statistics at the Urban Institute and National Council of Churches of Christ.

The Giving USA report estimates changes in giving to subsectors (health, arts, education, religion, etc.). Except for giving to religion and giving to foundations, the subsector estimates are based on econometric models.

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.

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