Charitable giving falls but exceeds $300 billion in 2009

According to a report from the Giving USA Foundation, Americans gave $303.75 billion to charity during 2009, down 3.6 percent from a revised estimate of $315.08 billion during 2008.

About 75 percent—$227.41 billion—of the total came from individuals. Foundations donated $38.44 billion, which was down 8.9 percent from 2008; giving by bequest was $23.8 billion, which was down 23.9 percent; and corporations gave $14.1 billion, which was up 5.5 percent.

Religious organizations received the largest amount of donations—$100.95 billion—experiencing a 0.7 percent decrease in giving. Education received $40.01 billion, which was a decrease of 3.6 percent, and foundations received $31 billion, which was a decrease of 8 percent.

In addition, there was a 6.2 percent increase in giving for international affairs organizations; 3.8 percent increase for health organizations; 2.3 percent increase for human services; 2.3 percent increase for environment/animal-related organizations; 2.4 percent decline for arts, culture and humanities organizations; and 4.6 percent decline for the public-society benefit subsector.

"Even during a time of enormous economic upheaval, such as we saw in 2009, Americans continued to be generous to charitable causes," says Edith Falk, chair of the Giving USA Foundation. "Although overall giving declined, many donors—including individuals and foundations—made special efforts in 2009 to respond to greater humanitarian needs."

This Web exclusive information is a supplement to A million ways to give .