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Contributions to Education Rose Just 0.9 Percent in 2011

June 27, 2012

Collectively, all American nonprofit organizations received $298.4 billion in donations in 2011, also an increase of just 0.9 percent, compared with a 1.3 percent growth rate in 2010. The Giving USA 2012 report, produced by Indiana University's Center on Philanthropy, suggests that a slowdown in donations from individuals accounted for the lower overall rate of growth in total contributions.

Personal donations, which represent 73 percent of the total donations received by American nonprofits, grew just 0.8 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars in 2011, compared with a 2.7 percent increase in 2010. In contrast, donations from corporations provide only 5 percent of the total, but businesses increased their giving by 3.9 percent in 2011, compared with a 3.1 percent decline in 2010. On the other hand, total contributions provided by foundations declined 1.3 percent in 2011. Foundation dollars represent 14 percent of the total amount received by nonprofits.

Donations to colleges, universities, and other educational institutions represent 13 percent of total contributions received by all nonprofits in 2011, behind only donations to churches and other religiously affiliated organizations, which received 32 percent. Human service organizations were the third largest beneficiaries (12 percent), followed by giving to foundations (9 percent) and health and international affairs and relief groups (each at 8 percent).

Education Fared Better than the Overall Average

Total charitable contributions to all nonprofits grew just 2.2 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars during the 2009-to-2011 period. But support to education fared better than the overall average during this time period, with donations supporting educational institutions growing 5.2 percent. In contrast, support for religious institutions and organizations fell 8.1 percent, and contributions to health-related charities dropped 0.8 percent. On the other hand, the gain for education lagged behind those for international affairs and relief organizations (9.9 percent), human services (7.2 percent), and public-society benefits (6.4 percent).

Trends Reflect Continuing Economic Struggles

The 2.2 percent rate of growth in voluntary support to nonprofits from 2009 to 2011 is the second lowest reported by Giving USA since 1971, reflecting the continuing struggles of the economy as it emerges from the 2008-09 downturn. In addition, from 2010 to 2011 the total number of charitable organizations in the United States-nonprofits recognized under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code-fell nearly 16 percent, from 1.3 million to 1.1 million. This decline suggests that the slowdown in the economy and other factors may have caused some charities to close.

However, total donations in 2011 were still relatively high when compared with historical averages of giving as a share of the overall U.S. economy. In 2011, total contributions to nonprofits equaled 2 percent of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP)-the value of all goods and services produced in the country. This share of giving relative to the economy is greater than any year from 1976 to 2000. Total charitable contributions as a share of GDP reached a record high of 2.3 percent in 2001 before falling to its current level.

A complimentary copy of the summary report is available from the Giving USA web site. Full copies are available for $45.

Contact

Ken Redd
Director, Research and Policy Analysis
202.861.2527
E-mail