U.S. Charitable Giving Topped $306 Billion in 2007

U.S. charitable giving reached an estimated $306.4 billion in 2007, exceeding $300 billion for the first time, a new report from the Giving USA Foundation finds.

According to Giving USA 2008, which is researched and written by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, every type of public charity saw gains in donations received during 2007, while giving to foundations decreased. The report attributes the increase in giving to charity largely to the strong stock market performance in the first half of the year, overall growth in the economy as measured by gross domestic product, and increases in corporate and personal income as reported at the end of the year.

While giving to foundations decreased, grantmaking by foundations increased, to $38.5 billion, according to data provided by the Foundation Center. In recent years, a growing number of households and individual donors have established foundations and are using them as vehicles for their charitable giving; foundations now account for more than 12 percent of all giving. At the same time, giving by corporations in 2007 increased by an estimated 1.9 percent, to $15.7 billion.

Giving by living individuals, the largest source of charitable giving, increased 2.7 percent in 2007, to an estimated $229 billion (a decrease of 0.1 percent when adjusted for inflation); the figure represents nearly three-quarters of all giving in the U.S. The report also estimated charitable bequests at $23.15 billion, an increase of 6.9 percent before adjusting for inflation.

In terms of giving by recipient, religious congregations retained the top spot among the nine subsectors of charitable recipients examined in the report, receiving an estimated 33.4 percent of the total and exceeding $100 billion for the first time ($102.3 billion).

“Giving USA 2008 shows that a strong start to the economy in 2007 helped lift giving despite worries at year’s end from gasoline prices or the housing and mortgage crisis,” said George C. Ruotolo, chair of the Giving Institute. “Just as important as the 3.9 percent overall increase is the finding that every subsector (except private foundations) is projected to have seen increases in 2007. This last occurred in 2001.”

source: “Report: Americans Gave More Than $300 Billion to Charity in 2007.” Giving USA Foundation Press Release 6/23/08.

update: an in-depth look from this weeks The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Giving’s Tough Climate: Economic woes put damper on some donations in 2007