Charitable giving increases slightly in 2010

According to a report from the Giving USA Foundation, Americans gave $290.89 billion to charity during 2010, up 3.8 percent from a revised estimate of $280.30 billion during 2009. The increase followed two years of steep declines.

Individual giving rose 2.7 percent in 2010 to $211.77 billion. Foundations donated $41 billion, which was down 0.2 percent from 2009; giving by bequest was $22.83 billion, which was up 18.8 percent; and corporations gave $15.29 billion, which was up 10.6 percent.

Religious organizations continue to receive the largest amount of donations—$100.63 billion—experiencing a 0.8 percent increase in giving. Education received $41.67 billion, which was an increase of 5.2 percent, and foundations received $33 billion, which was an increase of 1.9 percent.

In addition, there was a 15.3 percent increase in giving for international affairs organizations; 6.2 percent increase for the public-society benefit subsector; 5.7 percent increase for arts, culture and humanities organizations; 1.3 percent increase for health organizations; 0.1 percent increase for human services; and 0.7 percent decrease for environment/animal-related organizations.

"Our revised estimates show that 2008 and 2009 saw the largest drops in giving in more than 40 years as a result of the Great Recession, exceeding previous recessions' effects on giving," says Edith Falk, chair of the Giving USA Foundation. "But despite the fragile economic recovery, 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."

This Web exclusive information is a supplement to The power of commitment.