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 finds.
Based on research from the , the 2011 edition of the annual 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."