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Financial Contributions to Education Rose 5.6 Percent in 2012

June 26, 2013

Giving USA, an annual report produced by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and the Giving USA Foundation estimates the total amount of financial contributions received by all types of charitable and nonprofit organizations in the United States (in-kind contributions are not included). These national estimates are based amounts received by nonprofits that are recognized as tax exempt by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), plus churches and other religious organizations. Included are estimates of donations to these charities made by about approximately 117 million households in the U.S., along with 12.4 million corporations that claim charitable deductions, 99,000 estates, and 76,000 foundations. The donations go to about 1.1 million IRS-registered charities plus 222,000 American churches and other religion-based groups.

Recent Trends

The results for 2012 represent a continuing recovery in charitable giving. Total donations reached a record high of $344.5 billion in 2007. From 2007 to 2009, as a result of the economic recession, total giving fell below $300 billion before recovering during the past three survey years. The 3.5 percent gain in donations slightly below the rate of growth in 2011, when total donations increased 3.9 percent in current dollars.

Over the past decade, total financial contributions to non-profits have grown $78.8 billion. Despite this recent gain, donations to charities remain far below the highs reached prior to the 2008-2009 economic downturn. At current rates of growth, it would take another six years before total donations return to the previous levels.

Corporate Giving Drives the Recent Results

Overall, individuals provide the vast majority of donations to charitable organizations making up 72 percent of the total received in 2012. However, corporate philanthropy drove much of the increase received over the past year. Giving by private businesses rose 12.2 percent from 2011 to 2012, and now accounts for 6 percent of total donations. Giving by individuals rose 3.9 percent, but donations from bequests fell 7 percent.

While education-related organizations received 13 percent of all donations, the plurality, 32 percent, when to churches and other religious organizations. Human service organizations (such as the American Red Cross and the United Way) also received 13 percent, and gifts to foundations totaled 10 percent. Most other charitable organizations received less than 10 percent of the total

Copies of Giving USA 2013: The Annual Report on Philanthropy may be purchased from the Giving USA website. Highlights of the report may be downloaded without charge.


Ken Redd
Director, Research and Policy Analysis