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Charitable giving to the nonprofit sector reached a new high of $471.4 billion last year, according to Giving USA 2021: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2020.

This was an increase in current dollars of $22.8 billion, or 5.1 percent, over 2019. Using inflation-adjusted figures, which NACUBO will use subsequently, the total increased 3.8 percent.

Education, one of nine subsections of the nonprofit sector analyzed in the report, received a total of $71.3 billion in charitable contributions in 2020, a 7.7 percent increase year over year. The subsection includes higher education, K-12 education, and libraries.

The report also tracks giving sources and confirmed that individuals continue to drive charitable giving, contributing 69 percent of all gifts to the nonprofit sector.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided a new incentive to non-itemizing donors in the form of a $300 universal charitable deduction and the first cash stimulus of 2020. Together, along with extraordinary need due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these policies contributed to a 15.3 percent increase in the number of small donors—those who gave less than $250—and a 7.3 percent increase in the total number of individual donors. On the other end of the spectrum, gifts from the five top donors, including Mackenzie Scott, who gave significantly to higher education, more than doubled, reaching almost $20 billion.

The full report, published by the Giving USA Foundation and authored by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, is included with an annual subscription to Giving USA.


Neil Gavigan

Policy and Advocacy Manager


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