Giving grows in 2012, expected to slow in 2013

Total giving to nonprofits grew 6.7 percent to $369.23 billion in 2012, a pace that is expected to slow to 1.6 percent in 2013, when giving will total $375.13 billion, one of the slowest rates in 50 years, a new report says.

With giving to environmental causes growing 11 percent, faster than any other nonprofit field, giving last year was fueled by “robust stock market performance, an improving economy, and a few very larger individual contributions,” Rob Mitchell, CEO of The Atlas of Giving, which released the report, says in a statement.

But projected declines in the investment markets “will produce corresponding drops in giving,” he says, while discretionary income will fall as a result of a 2 percent hike in the payroll tax, affecting giving decisions by individuals and families.

And continuing high unemployment represents a “persistent detriment to giving for many Americans, a dynamic that does not impact all charities equally,” Mitchell says.

“The manner in which a given nonprofit raises money has everything to do with what effect unemployment has on gift receipts,” he says. “Organizations that rely on larger numbers of relatively small gifts from individuals are hit the hardest when unemployment is high.”

Giving to education grew 8.8 percent, as did disaster-related giving, much of it from donations in the wake of Hurricane Sandy in October.

Giving to religion, which accounted for 50 percent of all charitable donations in 2002, represented just 36 percent of all giving in 2012, a share that will drop to 35 percent in 2013, The Atlas of Giving says.

Giving to environmental causes is expected to continue its rapid growth, increasing 5.9 percent in 2013, while giving to religion is expected to decline slightly to nearly $131 billion from nearly $132 billion.

The share of giving from individuals, foundations, bequests and corporations is expected to remain the same in 2013 as in 2012 at 75 percent, 13 percent, 7 percent and 5 percent, respectively, while foundation gifts are expected to grow 4.9 percent, the most of any source, and corporate gifts are expected to fall 0.3 percent.

Mega-gifts in 2012, the report says, included $3 billion from Omaha investor Warren Buffett to charitable foundations operated by each of his three children; $499 million from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to Silicon Valley Community Foundation; $300 million pledged by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen to his Allen Institute for Brain Science; and $200 million from Mortimer Zuckerman, the publisher and real estate tycoon, to the Mind Brain Behavior Institute at Columbia University.

Todd Cohen

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