While individual charitable giving in the United States rose almost 4% last year, corporate donations increase threefold, a sign that charitable giving is mirroring the slow recovery of the economy.
Charitable donations reached their peak in 2007, with $344.5 billion going towards non-profits, however since the recession, levels have fallen sharply and have yet to match 2007. In 2012, individual donations towards the arts, health, and religion, amongst other activities, totaled $228.9 billion, a 3.9% increase from $220.3 billion in 2011. For companies and their foundations, however, the increase was more substantial: 2012 saw a rise of 12.2%, from $16.2 billion to nearly $18.2 billion in 2012.
The data comes from an annual study, published by the Giving USA Foundation and the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. The study used U.S. tax data from the Internal Revenue Service, government economic indicators, and other research. “In 2012, Americans were feeing better – but not great,” said Gregg Carlson, chair of the Giving USA Foundation. In general, donations follow the rise and fall of the economy, and, he said, even though the increase was relatively small, it showed that the “healing continues, with the progress being good.”
Although individual giving constitutes approximately three-quarters of all giving, it is thought that it is still suffering because of widespread unemployment, underemployment, and worries about the economy. However, the upward trend is a positive sign that charitable giving will continue to rise. “One thing we’re happy with is that it’s the third straight year we’ve had an increase,” said Keith Curtis, a fundraising consultant who is vice chairman of Giving USA. Should donations continue to increase at similar rates, it will take an estimated six years to return to the 2007 pre-recession levels.