Annual Philanthropy Numbers On The Rise: U.S. Giving Nears Pre-Recession Levels

Source: Giving USA Foundation

By Tom Watson

Those who don’t seek charitable donations for a living can usually be forgiven for one of the most common misperceptions in American philanthropy: that foundations and corporations represent the “big money” in nonprofit fundraising. They do not. Year after year, individuals in the U.S. are responsible, in the main, for contributing the steady 2% of GDP that constitutes giving in this country.

And as the U.S. nonprofit sector finally approaches levels of top line support not seen since before the Great Recession, it is once again American individuals powering that comeback, according to the annual analysis Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy produced by the Giving USA Foundation.

“We are seeing clear gains in the total amount given by individuals in the last couple of years,” said Gregg Carlson, chair of the Giving USA Foundation. “Of special interest is the rise in contributions by individuals between 2011 and 2013 – it represents 73% of the growth in total giving during that time frame.”

According to the Giving USA numbers released tonight, total estimated charitable giving in the United States rose 4.4% between 2012 and 2013, to $335.17 billion in contributions. Giving by individuals totaled an estimated $240.60 billion, rising 4.2% in 2013 (an increase of 2.7%, adjusted for inflation). Itemized giving comprised 83% of the total estimate for giving by individuals in 2013. The total for giving by individuals also includes $272 million in contributions to support disaster relief efforts in 2013.

The single largest contributor to the increase in total charitable giving in 2013, over 2012, was an increase of $9.69 billion in giving by individuals (in current dollars). In other key highlights:

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