Charitable giving increases in 2012

According to a report from the Giving USA Foundation, Americans gave $316.2 billion to charity during 2012, up 3.5 percent from a revised estimate of $305.5 billion during 2011.

Individual giving rose 3.9 percent in 2012 to $228.9 billion. Corporations donated $18.2 billion, which was up 12.2 percent from 2011, and foundations donated $45.74 billion, which was up 4.4 percent.

Religious organizations continue to receive the largest amount of donations but remained basically unchanged at $101.54 billion; they experienced a 2.2 percent decrease in giving. Foundations also experienced a decline, receiving $30.58 billion, which was a decrease of 4.6 percent. Education received $41.33 billion, which was an increase of 7 percent.

In addition, there was a 2.5 percent increase in giving for international affairs organizations; 7.8 percent increase for arts, culture and humanities organizations; and 4.9 percent increase for health organizations.

"When you consider all the factors that go into determining how much we give to charity, modest growth makes sense and is actually encouraging," says Gregg Carlson, chair of the Giving USA Foundation. "Most households feel pressured at every economic corner, but the longstanding social contract between Americans and the nonprofits they believe in remains resilient and intact; many see giving as a core budget item. The amount devoted to that category might shift up or down with annual economic realities, but it doesn't go away.

"The $316 billion in total giving reflected by our 2012 data continues the positive twin trajectory of dollars coupled with hope," he continues. "I would say the outlook is positive for those who believe in and understand the power of American philanthropy."

This Web exclusive information is a supplement to The dream weavers.