Total charitable contributions by individuals, corporations, and foundations was an estimated $316.23 billion in 2012, up 3.5 percent, or 1.5 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars, from a revised estimate of $305.45 billion in 2011, a new report from the Giving USA Foundation and the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy finds.
According to the 58th annual Giving USA report, giving by individuals in 2012 rose an estimated 3.9 percent (1.9 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars), to $228.93 billion. Bolstered by a 9.1 percent jump in contributions by community foundations, giving by private, community, and operating foundations increased 4.4 percent (2.3 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars) to an estimated $45.74 billion. And bequests fell an estimated 7 percent (-8.9 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars), to $23.41 billion. The report also found that corporate giving — which includes giving by corporations and their foundations — increased 12.2 percent (9.9 percent adjusted for inflation), to an estimated $18.15 billion, including roughly $131 million in support of relief efforts in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.
"The uncertainty among donors created by policy makers' examination of the charitable deduction likely influenced giving in two very different ways in 2012," said Giving Institute chair David H. King. "Some donors may have 'prepaid' gifts they had intended to make in 2013 to ensure they received a tax benefit, while others may have chosen not to donate out of concern that deductions for very large gifts would not carry over in 2013 and beyond."
According to the report, giving to religious organizations remained flat in 2012, declining an estimated 0.2 percent (-2.2 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars), to $101.54 billion — although religion continued to receive the largest share of charitable giving (32 percent). It was followed by education, which received an estimated $41.33 billion, human services ($40.4 billion), health ($28.12 billion), public society benefit ($21.63 billion), and international affairs ($19.11 billion). Giving to arts and culture organizations ($14.44 billion) and animal welfare and environmental groups ($8.3 billion) grew significantly, with increases of 7.8 percent (5.7 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars) and 6.8 percent (4.7 percent), respectively. The report also found that giving to foundations fell 4.6 percent (-6.5 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars), to an estimated $30.58 billion.
"While total charitable giving is continuing to grow, at current growth rates it is less likely to reach the 2007 benchmark high of $344.48 billion for at least six to seven years, adjusted for inflation," said Patrick M. Rooney, associate dean of academic affairs and research at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. "Individual giving rose 1.9 percent after inflation, perhaps reflecting the fact that the average household is still struggling in some areas."