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Charitable Giving in the U.S. Rose 5.1% Last Year to a Record High of $471 Billion in 2020


Americans responded to the COVID-19 pandemic in extraordinary ways, helping ease the suffering of neighbors by donating a record amount to charities in 2020.

Total charitable giving grew 5.1% during 2019, as individuals, bequests, foundations and corporations channeled an estimated $ 471.44 billion to American charities, according to the Annual Report on Philanthropy, published this week by Giving USA, the largest report. complete and longer lasting. on the sources and uses of charitable giving in the United States.

“The unprecedented developments in 2020 created a widespread need and significantly increased demand from nonprofits,” said Laura MacDonald, CFRE, president of the Giving USA Foundation. “Surprisingly, the generous donations coupled with the change in the stock market in the later months of the year boosted contributions. As a result, 2020 is the highest year for charitable giving on record. “

“The growth in the S&P 500 in recent years and the market recovery in 2020 positioned foundations to respond to the challenges of the year, with the result that foundation giving reached its largest share of total giving, with a 19 percent, ”Amir Pasic said. Ph.D., Dean Eugene R. Tempel of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, who conducted the research for the Giving Institute report.

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At the end of 2020, the S&P 500, which is closely related to giving, grew 16.3% and personal income, a factor that is significantly related to individual giving, grew 6.1%. Foundation giving skyrocketed and donations from individuals and bequests also showed growth.

“As we’ve seen in previous years that included national crises or economic recessions, donors responded to urgent needs and large-scale donations, as well as donations to COVID-19 relief and the movement for racial justice helped drive the growth of individual and total charities. donations in 2020, ”said Una Osili, Ph.D., associate dean for research and international programs at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

“Nonprofit leaders and fundraising professionals played a role with significant innovation in fundraising methods and reaching out to donors for increased financial support in difficult circumstances. Additionally, we saw a wide range of more informal philanthropic responses from individuals in 2020, including mutual aid efforts and person-to-person donations. “

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2020 charitable giving highlights and figures by source:

• Donations from individuals totaled an estimated $ 324.10 billion, increasing 2.2% in 2020 (an increase of 1.0%, adjusted for inflation). Donations from individuals reached their highest total dollar amount to date, adjusted for inflation.

• Foundation giving increased 17.0%, to an estimated $ 88.55 billion (a growth rate of 15.6%, adjusted for inflation), reaching its highest dollar amount. Foundation giving, which has grown in nine of the past 10 years, accounted for 19% of total giving in 2020, its largest share on record.

• Bequest giving was estimated at $ 41.19 billion in 2020 and grew 10.3% from 2019 (an increase of 9.0%, adjusted for inflation). Bequest giving often varies substantially from year to year.

“Human service organizations, which include charities that respond to hunger and basic needs, and public society charities, which include United Ways and many organizations that focus on community development and civil rights, experienced strong growth, ”said Josh Birkholz, vice president of the Giving USA Foundation. “Those are the types of charities that may come to mind first when you think about donating to meet the needs that emerged in 2020.”

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Highlights and figures for charitable giving to 2020 recipients:

• It is estimated that donations to human services increased by 9.7% in 2020, for a total of $ 65.14 billion.

• It is estimated that donations to foundations increased by 2.0% to $ 58.17 billion. Adjusted for inflation, donations to foundations were unchanged with a growth of 0.8%.

• Donations to public society benefit organizations increased approximately 15.7% to $ 48 billion. Adjusted for inflation, donations to benefit organizations of the public society grew by 14.3%. This category includes a wide range of charities, including donor-advised national funds, United Ways, and civil rights organizations.

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• Donations to environmental and animal organizations are estimated to have increased 11.6% to $ 16.14 billion. Adjusted for inflation, donations to the environment / animals subsector increased 10.3%.

• It is estimated that donations to individuals grew 12.8% (11.5% in inflation-adjusted dollars) between 2019 and 2020, to $ 16.22 billion. Most of these donations are in-kind gifts of medicines to patients in need, made through the patient assistance programs of the operating foundations of pharmaceutical companies.

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