U.S./world – Boost in giving – 2% of U.S. economy

Fueled by gifts and pledges of $50 million or more, contributions to charity in the U.S. exceeded $200 billion for the first time in 2000 and nearly kept pace with the growth of the national economy, a new report says.

Giving grew 6.6 percent to $203.45 billion from $190.79 billion in 1999, says Giving USA 2001, an annual report by the AAFRC Trust for Philanthropy.

The increase, slightly behind the 7.1 percent growth in the gross domestic product, came despite uncertainty at the end of the year about the economy and the outcome of the presidential election – and despite turmoil in the stock market throughout the year, AAFRC said.

Giving, which since 1995 has grown $79.44 billion, or 63.7 percent, represented 2 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product in 2000, down from a 28-year high of 2.1 percent in 1998 and 1999.

Individuals gave the most, while religious groups got the most.

Individuals provided 75 percent of all charitable giving, contributing $152.07 billion, up 4.9 percent from a revised estimate of $145 billion in 1999.

Individuals gave 1.8 percent of their personal income, the same level as in 1998 and 1999.

Gifts and pledges of $50 million or more exceeded $13 billion, including $11 billion from six donors to create or enlarge foundation endowments.

All told, 26 individuals or families made publicly reported gifts or pledges of $50 million or more.

Giving by foundations – excluding corporate foundations — grew 19.6 percent to $20.49 billion, or 12 percent of total giving.

Giving by bequest grew 2.6 percent to $15.61 billion, or 7.8 percent of total giving, while giving by corporations grew 12.1 percent to $10.86 billion, or 5.3 percent of total giving.

Religion received $74.21 billion, up 4.3 percent and accounting for 36.5 percent of all giving.

However, after adjusting total giving to remove gifts to foundations, religion received 46.7 percent of all giving.

That adjustment reflects the fact that gifts to foundations have grown from 5 percent of all giving in 1994 to more than 15 percent in 1999 – and the fact that total giving grows as gifts to foundations grow because foundations also make grants.

Gifts to education grew 2.6 percent to $28.18 billion and accounted for 13.8 percent of all giving.

The share of all giving to other categories of charities totaled 13.8 percent for health; 8.8 percent for human services; 5.7 percent for the arts, culture and humanities; 5.7 percent for the benefit of the public and society; 3 percent for the environment and wildlife; and 1.3 percent to international affairs.

Gifts to foundations have grown from 5 percent of all giving in 1994 to more than 15 percent in 1999. Because foundations also make grants, growth in gifts to foundations boosts total giving. Adjusting total giving to remove gifts to foundations, religion accounted for 46.7 percent of all giving in 2000.

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