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Charitable Giving Rebounds Slightly After Two Years of Steep Declines

(June 21, 2011) Total giving by individuals, foundations and corporations in the U.S. was $290.89 billion in 2010, a 2.1 percent increase from 2009 in inflation-adjusted dollars, reports the Giving USA Foundation. According to revised estimates, 2008 and 2009 saw the largest drops in charitable giving in more than 40 years.

Read AFP President and CEO Andrew Watt's Blogpost on the Giving USA Report

Last year the foundation reported that total giving surpassed the $300 billion mark in 2008 and 2009; however it revised downward its estimates upon the release of data for those years from the IRS. The latest estimate by Giving USA shows that $10.59 billion more was donated in 2010 than in 2009, indicating a recovery, the report authors suggest.

"Total giving grew by 2.1 percent last year after adjusting for inflation. That's good news following a combined drop of over 13 percent in 2008 and 2009," said Patrick M. Rooney, Ph.D., executive director of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University in a press release.

The results mirror a report issued in March by the Nonprofit Research Collaborative (NRC), of which AFP is a part, which found that a majority of charities surveyed saw their fundraising revenue remain stable or increase last year.

The rebound so far appears to be gradual. "If giving continues to grow at that rate, it will take five or six more years just to return to the level of giving we saw before the Great Recession," Rooney said. "Giving is now at about the same level in real dollars as it was a decade ago."

However, there is some good news: Americans continue to be generous. Total giving, when adjusted for inflation, has exceeded $280 billion a year every year for the past decade, and surpassed $290 billion in six of the last seven years.

Giving Estimates by Type of Donor

Giving by individuals in 2010 is estimated at $211.77 billion, which is a 2.7 percent increase over 2009 (1.1 percent adjusted for inflation). Albeit a modest increase, it is consistent with previous post-recessionary years over the past four decades, the report states.

Charitable bequests rose an estimated 18.8 percent (16.9 percent adjusted for inflation).

Corporate giving rose an estimated 10.6 percent (8.8 percent adjusted for inflation) in 2010. Giving by foundations remained steady, with a decrease of 0.2 percent (or 1.8 percent adjusted for inflation).

Giving Estimates by Subsector

The following is a list of subsectors and the amount they received in contributions in 2010.

  • Giving to religion -- $100.63 billion (35 percent of total giving) - rose only slightly in 2010, with a 0.8 percent increase in real dollars, and a decline of 0.8 percent adjusted for inflation
  • Giving to education -- $41.67 billion (14 percent of total giving) - rose 5.2 percent in 2010 (3.5 percent adjusted for inflation)
  • Giving to foundations -- $33.00 billion (11 percent of total giving) - rose slightly in 2010, by an estimated 1.9 percent (0.2 percent adjusted for inflation)
  • Giving to human services -- $26.49 billion (9 percent of total giving) - remained steady in 2010, growing by 0.1 percent (a decline of 1.5 percent adjusted for inflation)
  • Giving to health -- $22.83 billion (8 percent of total giving) - showed a modest 1.3 percent rise in 2010 (a decline of 0.3 percent adjusted for inflation)
  • Giving to public-society benefit organizations -- $24.24 billion (8 percent of total giving) - rose an estimated 6.2 percent in 2010 (4.5 percent adjusted for inflation)
  • Giving to arts, culture and humanities -- $13.28 billion (5 percent of total giving) - rose an estimated 5.7 percent in 2010 (4.1 percent adjusted for inflation)
  • Giving to international affairs -- $15.77 (5 percent of total giving) - rose an estimated 15.3 percent in 2010 (13.5 percent adjusted for inflation)
  • Giving to environmental and animal organizations -- $6.66 (2 percent of total giving) - dropped only slightly in 2010, by an estimated 0.7 percent (a decline of 2.3 percent adjusted for inflation)

The complete Giving USA 2011 report, with data covering 2010 giving, is available at www.givingusareports.org. A summary with key findings is available at no charge.



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