Charitable giving increases in 2011

According to a report from the Giving USA Foundation, Americans gave $298.42 billion to charity during 2011, up 4 percent from a revised estimate of $286.91 billion during 2010.

Individual giving rose 3.9 percent in 2011 to $217.79 billion. Foundations donated $41.67 billion, which was up 1.8 percent from 2010, and corporations gave $14.55 billion, which was down 0.1 percent.

Religious organizations continue to receive the largest amount of donations—$95.88 billion; however, they experienced a 1.7 percent decrease in giving. Foundations also experienced a decline, receiving $25.8 billion, which was a decrease of 6.1 percent. Education received $38.87 billion, which was an increase of 4 percent.

In addition, there was a 7.6 percent increase in giving for international affairs organizations; 4.1 percent increase for arts, culture and humanities organizations; and 2.7 percent increase for health organizations.

"America's charities have been traveling down a rocky road in recent years," says James Yunker, chairman of the Giving USA Foundation. "Although a cautious celebration might seem to be in order because 2011 saw the second year of growth in individual giving, heed must also be paid to the fact that … the American economy remains volatile on many fronts, and that could have an effect on giving going forward."

This Web exclusive information is a supplement to Everyday Heroes.