Giving in U.S. grows, still lags 2007 peak

Powered by individual donors and corporate funders, charitable giving in the U.S. grew 3.5 percent to $316.23 billion in 2012, or an increase of 1.5 percent adjusted for inflation, a new report says.

Giving by foundations also grew, while giving by bequest fell, according to Giving USA, an annual report on giving in the U.S. from the Giving USA Foundation and its research partner, the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University.

Still, at its current pace and adjusted for inflation, giving overall likely will take six to seven years to regain the peak it reached in 2007, the year before the economy crashed, says Patrick M. Rooney, associate dean of academic affairs and research at the School of Philanthropy.

Individuals give most, still struggling

Giving by living individuals grew 3.9 percent to $228.93 billion in 2012, or an increase of 1.9 percent adjusted for inflation, and represented 72 percent of all giving.

Including giving through bequests and family foundations, giving by individuals represented 86 percent of all giving.

The slight inflation-adjusted increase in giving by living individuals may reflect “the fact that the average household is still struggling in some areas,” Patrick M. Rooney, associate dean of academic affairs and research at  School of Philanthropy, says in a statement.

Giving to religion, which accounted for nearly a third of overall giving, was virtually flat, while giving to the arts, culture and humanities surged after plunging in 2008 and slowly growing through 2011.

Giving to environmental and animal charities also surged, while international giving flattened.

Corporate giving grows

Giving by corporations grew 12.2 percent to $18.15 billion, or an increase of 9.9 percent adjusted for inflation, and represented 6 percent of all giving.

Corporate giving consisted of cash, in-kind donations and grants from corporations and their foundations, and included $131 million they gave to nonprofits for relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Corporate giving is strongly tied to profits, says Giving USA, which cited data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis showing an increase of 16.6 percent in corporate pre-tax profits.

Giving by bequests fell 7 percent to $23.41 billion, or a decline of 8.9 percent adjusted for inflation, and represented 7 percent of all giving.

And giving by foundations grew 4.4 percent to $45.74 billion, or an increase of 2.3 percent adjusted for inflation, and represented 15 percent of all giving.

Giving by community foundations grew 9.1 percent, while giving by operating and private foundations grew 3.5 percent and 3.9 percent, respectively.

Religion, education, human services get most

Giving to religion which represented the biggest share of all giving, or 32 percent,  fell 0.2 percent to $101.54 billion, or a drop of 2.2 percent adjusted for inflation.

Giving to education and human services each accounted for 13 percent of all giving.

Giving to education grew 7 percent to $41.33 billion, or an increase of 4.9 percent adjusted for inflation, with four-year colleges and universities getting 75 percent of all giving to education.

Giving to human services grew 3.8 percent to $40.4 billion, or an increase of 1.8 percent adjusted for inflation, with organizations working on relief and recovery efforts in the wake off Hurricane Sandy getting $223 million.

Foundations get less

Giving to foundations fell 4.6 percent to $30.58 billion, or a drop of 6.5 percent adjusted for inflation, and represented 10 percent of all giving.

Giving to public-society benefit organizations, or umbrella groups such as United Ways, the Combined Federal Campaign and Jewish Federations of North America that receive donations and then redistribute them to charities, grew 5.4 percent to $21.63 billion, or an increase of 3.3 percent adjusted for inflation, and represented 7 percent of all giving.

National donor-advised funds continued to post strong growth in charitable gifts, while organizations assisting people affected by Hurricane Sandy received $54 million.

Fewer international disasters

Giving to international affairs grew 2.5 percent to $19.11 billion, or an increase of 0.4 percent adjusted for inflation, and represented 6 percent of all giving.

That increase, after high growth rates in some recent years, reflected fewer international disasters that captured the attention of Americans, who may have replaced that giving with donations to domestic organizations providing relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Giving USA says.

Giving to organizations in arts, culture and humanities, after plunging 17.6 percent and slowly growing through 2011, grew 7.8 percent in 2012 to $14.44 billion, or an increase of 5.7 percent adjusted for inflation, and represented 5 percent of all giving.

Environment, animals get more

Giving to environmental and animal organizations grew 6.8 percent to $8.3 billion or an increase of 4.7 percent adjusted for inflation, and represented 3 percent of all giving.

And giving to individuals, mainly including medications provided through Patient Assistance Programs administered by the operating foundations of pharmaceutical companies, fell 6.8 percent to $3.96 billion, or a drop of 8.8 percent adjusted for inflation, and represented 1 percent of all giving.

Unallocated giving totaled $6.82 billion and represented 2 percent of all giving.

Unallocated giving includes itemized deductions that individuals and households “carried over” from a previous year — with a donor claiming a gift on a return in one tax year, and a charity receiving a gift and reporting it as revenue in another year. Unallocated giving also includes gifts to government entities, which do not report charitable contributions at the national level; gifts by foundations to entities in other countries; gifts made to new organizations that have not yet been classified as to  what type of charity they are; and deductions taken by a donor who forms a charitable trust but does not tell the recipient organization.

Todd Cohen

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Million-dollar donors live nearby

Donors who make gifts of $1 million or more tend to live near the charities they support, a new study says.

Sixty percent of donors who made gifts at that level between 2000 and 2011 lived in the same state or geographic region as the nonprofit or foundation that received the gift, says A Decade of Million-Dollar Gifts, a study from consulting firm CCS and the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University.

Forty-seven percent of gifts at that level and 52 percent of their total dollar amount came from donors living in the same state as the charities they supported, says the study, which analyzed data from the Million Dollar List, the School of Philanthropy’s searchable online database of over 68,000 publicly announced gifts.

“The opportunity to strengthen one’s community can be highly attractive to potential donors,” Robert Kissane, president of CCS, says in a statement. 

“Nonprofit organizations that effectively communicate potential impact and seek out the right local donors may experience transformational gifts,” he says. “Thoughtful cultivation and stewardship of these donors can often lead to life-long philanthropic partners and community-based advocates as well as influence peer giving within the community.”

Donors in the same state accounted for over half the gifts of $1 million or more to health nonprofits; arts, culture and humanities organizations; higher education institutions; foundations; and government agencies.

And donors in the same region accounted for two-thirds of gifts at that level to those types of organizations.

Foundations and higher education institutions each received roughly one-third of the total dollar value of gifts at that level, with the remaining dollars split about evenly among other types of organizations and no subsector getting more than 10 percent of publicly announced gifts of $1 million or more.

“Contrary to conventional wisdom, organizations of any type can attract million-dollar gifts,” Una Osili, director of research at the School of Philanthropy, says in a statement. “Donors at this level are motivated to give to a variety of organizations and causes.”

Individuals and foundations are the main source of publicly announced gifts at that level.

Roughly one-third of those gifts made between 2000 and 2011, representing half the total dollar amount of gifts at that level, came from gifts made by living individuals.

Including bequests, individuals contributed 40 percent of gifts at that level and 65 percent of the total dollar amount.

Foundations made 43 percent of gifts of $1 million or more, account for 25 percent of the total dollar value of those gifts.

Todd Cohen