Charitable Giving Rises 5 Percent to Nearly $250 Billion in 2004

Charitable Giving Rises 5 Percent to Nearly $250 Billion in 2004

Tsunami gifts less than one-half of 1 percent of total
News story posted in Demographics on 13 June 2005| 1 comments
audience: National Publication | last updated: 18 May 2011


After two years of limited growth in charitable contributions, Americans picked up the pace in 2004, showing they are a generous bunch. They donated nearly $250 billion to various causes across the United States, an almost 5 percent increase over 2003. That's the key finding in "Giving USA 2005," published annually by the Giving USA Foundation. The $248.52 billion in donations set a new record for philanthropy in the United States.
Full Text:

GLENVIEW, Il. -- Estimated charitable giving reached $248.52 billion for 2004, a new record for philanthropic giving in the United States, the Giving USA Foundation announced today. The new Giving USA report released today is the 50th anniversary edition of the yearbook of philanthropy. Giving USA is published by the Giving USA Foundation and researched and written at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.

Contributions made in 2004 for relief after the December 26 tsunami that devastated the regions surrounding the Indian Ocean are a very small portion of the estimated total, less than one-half of 1 percent. Much of the tsunami relief giving will appear in 2005, and, at between $1.5 billion and $2.5 billion, tsunami relief contributions likely will be a low percentage of the total estimated charitable contributions for that year.

"Charitable giving is the lifeblood of more than a million American nonprofits," said Henry (Hank) Goldstein, CFRE, chair of the Giving USA Foundation. "Contributions fund research in medicine and the social sciences, endow scholarships, support museums and orchestras, and so much more. A 5 percent increase suggests donors are 'over the hump' of the economic concerns that limited the growth of contributions in 2002 and even somewhat in 2003."

Giving USA reports giving from four sources of contributions-individual (living) donors; bequests by deceased individuals; foundations; and corporations. All four sources of giving are estimated to have increased their contributions in 2004 by 4 to 9 percent.

Individual giving, the single largest source, rose by an estimated 4.1 percent in 2004 to reach $187.92 billion.

"Living individuals account for three-quarters of total charitable giving in the U.S. and have done so since Giving USA began publication," said C. Ray Clements, chair of the American Association of Fundraising Counsel, which launched Giving USA as a service to the nonprofit sector in 1956. "About 70 to 80 percent of Americans contribute annually to at least one charity. Being a 'philanthropist' does not merely mean making huge gifts; it means giving to any cause that you value."

Since its inception 50 years ago, Giving USA has tracked contributions to nonprofits in different subsectors or categories of services. These subsectors now include religious organizations, educational institutions, health charities, human services agencies, organizations that promote public or societal benefit (such as foundations, United Way, United Jewish Appeal and others), institutions in the arts, culture, or humanities, environment or animal welfare groups, and organizations engaged in international affairs or international aid.

"Religious organizations received the single largest share of contributions, with more than $88 billion in estimated contributions to congregations and other religious entities for 2004," said Eugene R. Tempel, Ed.D., CFRE, executive director of the Center on Philanthropy, where Giving USA is researched and written. "Education is the next-largest category for giving, receiving about $34 billion in 2004."

Giving to all subsectors increased in 2004, at rates ranging from growth of 7.0 percent for environmental and animal welfare organizations to 0.8 percent for international affairs and development. Adjusted for inflation, all subsectors except two-international affairs and development and human services-saw growth in giving in 2004.

After two years of double-digit rates of growth, giving to international affairs and development declined by 1.8 percent (adjusted for inflation) in 2004. Organizations in the human services sector saw giving drop (adjusted for inflation) by 1.1 percent, which is the third year in a row for a decline in this subsector.

In the annual Giving USA survey, 55 percent of responding organizations reported increases in charitable gifts received in 2004 compared with 2003. The largest organizations-those with charitable contributions totaling $20 million or more-were the most likely to report an increase in giving, with 60 percent saying giving was up in 2004. This is probably because these organizations are likely to have a relatively large number of staff members and volunteers engaged in fundraising. Large organizations are more likely than small groups to have the resources to continue fundraising in lean years and to remain in many donors' minds when the economy improves.

Among small organizations-those with less than $1 million in charitable contributions-just under half saw an increase in charitable revenue in 2004. Compared with 2003, last year was more difficult for some small organizations; 37 percent reported that charitable contributions dropped in 2004, compared with only 29 percent in 2003.

In medium-sized organizations-those with charitable revenue between $1 million and $20 million-roughly 55 percent of organizations reported increases in charitable revenue in both 2004 and 2003, and roughly 40 percent in both years reported a decline, with about 5 percent reporting no change.

Giving USA's annual estimates are based on original surveys of organizations and econometric studies using tax data, government estimates for economic indicators, and information from other research institutions. Sources of data used in the estimates include the Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Department of the Treasury, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Foundation Center, INDEPENDENT SECTOR, Council for Aid to Education, National Center for Charitable Statistics at the Urban Institute, and National Council of Churches of Christ.
The single largest source, rose by an estimated 4.1 percent in
Giving USA estimates the percentage of change in giving to subsectors (health, arts, education, religion, etc.). Except for giving to religion, these estimates are developed by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University based on a survey conducted by Walker Information Group. Rates of change for 2004 are based on responses from 910 organizations.

A Note about Inflation Adjustments
Inflation-adjusted rates of change are based on estimates that are calculated using a Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation converter, which rounds to two decimal points. When comparing the inflation-adjusted rates of change to rates of change in current dollars, the difference between the two is not a constant 2.7 percentage points (the rate of inflation used in the BLS converter for 2004). This is a by-product of the rounding and is not due to the use of a different measure of inflation or an error in calculation.

Data for 1964 through 2004 are available upon request. The data show sources of contributions by year in current and inflation-adjusted dollars and allocation of gifts by type of recipient organization, also in current and inflation-adjusted dollars. Data also are available showing total giving as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product; individual giving as a percentage of personal income; and corporate giving as a percentage of corporate pre-tax profits.

The preferred citation for Giving USA is: Giving USA, a publication of Giving USA Foundation, researched and written by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.

For scholarly citations, the preferred form is the American Psychological Association style as follows: Giving USA. (2005).

Giving USA Foundation(TM) is the business name of the AAFRC Trust For Philanthropy, which is the educational and research initiative of the American Association of Fundraising Counsel.

The complete Giving USA 2005 report, with data covering giving in 2004, will be available in late June 2005. Giving USA Foundation also publishes a quarterly newsletter, Giving USA Quarterly. Both may be ordered by calling 847/375-4709 or by downloading an order form from . Giving USA 2005 (with data for 2004) is $65. Giving USA Presentation on CD is $135. Giving USA book and subscription to the Quarterly is $125. Giving USA book, subscription to the Quarterly, and Presentation on CD is $195. Single issues of Giving USA Quarterly are $35. Costs do not include shipping and handling. All orders must be prepaid.

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Great News! But in what areas?

Its always wonderful to hear about giving increasing. It shows that Americans can display great generosity even in challenging times. My question is where is this giving going? From industry-level research done for the nation's professional theaters, charitable giving since 2004 has been stagnant at best across the country. Is this greater giving the data states going to hospitals, religious organizations, universities or arts organization? That type of detail would be helpful.

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