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Giving grew in 2010; more expected in ‘11

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Charitable giving in the U.S. grew 6.6 percent in 2010 after falling an unprecedented 5.7 percent in 2009, and is expected to grow another 2.5 percent in 2011, a new report says.

Giving totaled $323.86 billion in 2010 and is expected to total $331.96 billion in 2011, says the Atlas of Giving.

Published by Philanthromax and based on a mathematical formula that uses economic and demographic data, the Index says giving grew every month of the year in 2010, although the rate of growth tapered off in the final five months of the year.

Monthly growth in giving in 2010, compared to the same month a year earlier, ranged from a high of 9.3 percent in April to a low of 4.8 percent in September,

Giving was expected to slip 0.4 percent to $28.2 billion in January 2011 from December 2010, a total that represents an increase of 6.9 percent from January 2010.

Giving in 2011 was expected to continue to grow every month through August, compared to the same month a year ago, then decline every month through December.

Charitable giving in 2010 varied considerably by organization, the report says, with nonprofits that rely on major gifts, corporate giving, foundation grants and bequests to generate significant income faring better than groups that depend on smaller gifts from individuals.

Donor-advised funds posted a record year in additional contributions, new accounts and distributed gifts.

And online giving was “exceptionally strong,” Philanthromax says.

The main driver of the growth in 2010 was strong stock-market performance, with the S&P index gaining over 15 percent for the year, the report says.

But it says the rebound was limited by factors such as high unemployment and the economic impact of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

“The impact of unemployment on giving is far-reaching and long-lasting, Rob Mitchell, CEO of Philanthromax, says in a statement.

“In addition to the obvious limitations associated with loss of income,” he says, “once individuals again become employed, there are typically accumulated financial responsibilities such as credit-card debt and essential purchases that have been deferred due to job loss.”

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