Charitable giving in the United States totaled an estimated $290.89 billion in 2010, up from a revised total of $280.30 billion in 2009, a new report from the Giving USA Foundation finds.
Based on research from the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, the 2011 edition of the annual Giving USA report found that total charitable giving increased 3.8 percent (2.1 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars) in 2010, following two years of declines. The report also found that grantmaking by private, community, and operating foundations fell 0.2 percent (-1.8 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars), to $41 billion; that charitable bequests increased an estimated 18.8 percent (16.9 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars), to $22.83 billion; and that corporate giving was up 10.6 percent (8.8 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars), to about $15.3 billion.
According to the report, individual giving in 2010 rose an estimated 2.7 percent (1.1 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars), to $211.77 billion. The model used to estimate individual giving in this year's report included a new variable, personal consumption, as well as variables used in prior years, including an inflation-adjusted change in the S&P 500, lagged giving, and the so-called tax price. Historically, personal income has been part of the Giving USA model, but in the wake of the economic downturn, personal consumption was considered to be a better indicator of overall giving.
As in previous years, giving to religion comprised the largest share of contributions, coming in at an estimated $100.63 billion. The report also found that giving to education (14 percent of the total) saw a year-over-year increase of 5.2 percent, giving to foundations (11 percent) grew by 1.9 percent, and giving to human service organizations (9 percent) was up a slight 0.1 percent. Giving to health (8 percent), public-society benefit (8 percent), international aid (5 percent), and arts and culture organizations (5 percent) also increased, while giving to environment/animal-related charities (2 percent) was down 0.7 percent.
"Our revised estimates show that 2008 and 2009 saw the largest drops in giving in more than forty years as a result of the Great Recession, exceeding previous recessions' impact on giving," said Edith H. Falk, chair of the Giving USA Foundation. "Despite the fragile economic recovery, though, Americans continued — and even increased — their support of organizations and causes that matter to them in 2010. The $10.59 billion increase in the estimated total suggests that giving is beginning to recover as the economy slowly climbs out of the recession."