U.S. giving grows 4.4%; quicker rebound seen

Fueled by a surge in individual giving, charitable giving in the U.S. grew 4.4 percent to $335.17 billion in 2013, its highest level since the recession ended in 2009 and marking the fourth straight year of growth, a new report says.

The increase, which totaled 3 percent when adjusted for inflation, could signal an accelerated return to the peak U.S. philanthropy hit in 2007, when giving totaled $349.5 billion, adjusted for inflation, says Giving USA 2014.

Total giving has grown 22 percent since 2009, or 12.3 percent adjusted for inflation, while the increase in giving by individuals between 2011 and 2013 represents 73 percent of the growth in total giving during that period, says the report from the Giving USA Foundation and its research partner, the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University.

Rising confidence and the sustained growth in overall giving could indicate that giving could rebound to its previous peak in a year or two, sooner than previously expected, the report says.

Sources of giving

Giving by individuals, foundations and bequest all grew, while giving by corporations fell slightly, the result of a slow rate of growth — 3.4 percent — in pre-tax corporate profits in 2013.

Giving by individuals grew 4.2 percent to $240.6 billion, or 2.7 percent adjusted for inflation, and represented 72 percent of total giving. Including giving by bequest and family foundations, giving by individuals represented 87 percent of total giving.

Giving by foundations grew 5.7 percent to $48.96 billion, or 4.2 percent adjusted for inflation, and represented 15 percent of all gifts.

Grantmaking by community foundations grew 10.5 percent, while grantmaking by operating and independent foundations grew 6.6 percent and 4.8 percent, respectively.

Giving by foundations has increased for the last three years, adjusted for inflation, generally reflecting increases in assets and increased confidence among grantmakers in their financial recovery, the report says.

Giving by bequest grew 8.7 percent to $27.73 billion, or 7.2 percent adjusted for inflation, and accounted for 8 percent of all gifts.

And giving by corporations fell 1.9 percent to $17.88 billion, or a decline of 3.2 percent adjusted for inflation, and represented 5 percent of all giving.

Corporate giving includes cash and in-kind contributions made through corporate giving programs, as well as grants and gifts made by corporate foundations.

Corporate foundation grantmaking totaled an estimated $5.7 billion, up 5 percent from 2012.

Over the past five years, the report says, giving by corporations has grown 19.4 percent, adjusted for inflation, compared to an increase of 12.3 percent for giving overall.

In 2012,  corporate giving grew 16.9 percent in current dollars, driven by a surge in corporate profits. That increase also helps explain the relative decline in corporate giving in 2013, the report says.

Also helping to drive the increase in overall giving in 2013 was significant growth in gifts of $80 million or more  from individuals, couples and estates, the report says.

Those gifts may signal growing confidence among wealthy donors in making larger gifts, the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy says.

Focus of giving

While giving to education, human services, health, foundations, and the environment and animals have reached or exceeded all-time highs, in inflation-adjusted dollars, since the recession ended in mid-2009, the report says, giving to foundations fell 15.5 percent in 2013.

And giving to international affairs fell 6.7 percent, possibly a result in part of lower overall corporate support for charities in 2013.

Giving to religion was flat, slipping 0.2 percent to $105.53 billion, or a decline of 1.6 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars, and accounting for the biggest share of all giving, or 31 percent.

Recent declines in religious giving are partly the result of a drop in the percentage of Americans who consider themselves religious and attend congregations, the report says.

Giving to education grew 8.9 percent to $52.07 billion, or 7.4 percent adjusted for inflation, and accounted for 16 percent of all giving.

Giving to human services grew 2.2 percent to $41.51 billion, or 0.7 percent adjusted for inflation, and accounted for 12 percent of all giving.

Giving to foundations fell 15.5 percent to $35.74 billion, or a decline of 16.7 percent adjusted for inflation, and accounted for 11 percent of all giving.

Giving to health organizations grew 6 percent to $31.86 billion, or 4.5 percent adjusted for inflation, and accounted for 10 percent of all giving.

Giving to public-society benefit organizations grew 8.5 percent to $23.89 billion, or 7 percent adjusted for inflation, and accounted for 7 percent of all giving.

Giving to arts, culture and humanities grew 7.8 percent to $16.66 billion, or 6.3 percent adjusted for inflation, and accounted for 5 percent of all giving.

Giving to international affairs fell 6.7 percent to $14.93 billion, or a decline of 8 percent adjusted for inflation, and accounted for 4 percent of all giving.

Giving to environmental and animal organizations grew 7.5 percent to $9.72 billion, or 6 percent adjusted for inflation, and accounted for 3 percent of all giving.

And gifts made directly to individuals grew 1.4 percent to $3.7 billion, and accounted for 1 percent of all giving. Gifts to individuals consisted mainly of in-kind gifts of medications to patients in need, made through patient assistance programs of the operating foundations of pharmaceutical companies.

Todd Cohen

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