Americans donated $346.89 billion in 2011 to U.S. nonprofits, a 7.5 percent increase compared to the $322.69 billion given the previous year, according to the annual report by the Atlas of Giving.
The group said charitable giving grew at a faster rate last year than overall economic growth, but it does not anticipate the same rate of growth in giving this year. The forecast for 2012 is a 3.9 percent increase to $360 billion.
But that forecast can change unexpectedly as events unfold during the year. Natural and man-made disasters, sudden economic events, and other factors have an impact on charitable giving.
“2011 giving growth was fueled by strong stock market performance through July, low interest rates, an improving economy, modest inflation, and aggressive solicitation” Rob Mitchell, Atlas of Giving CEO, said. “However, the increase was not enjoyed by all nonprofits.”
Organizations that rely on “many small gifts from many small donors” are feeling the impact of persistently high unemployment, Mitchell said.
The giving includes donations to education, human needs/disaster relief groups, churches and other types of organizations.
Tax forms released by GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney today showed he donated about $4 million to charity in 2011, about $2.6 million of which went to the Mormon Church.
Religion was the largest recipient sector overall, according to Atlas of Giving. Donations to religious organizations edged down, from 37 percent in 2010 to 36 percent in 2011.
Here are some highlights from the Atlas of Giving report.
2011 giving result by donor type:
- Individual giving grew 7.8% to $260.18 billion, accounting for 75% of total giving;
- Corporate giving grew 6.4% to $17.57 billion, accounting for 5% of total giving;
- Foundation giving grew 6.2% to $44.73 billion, accounting for 13% of total giving;
- Bequests giving grew 7.5% to $22.69 billion, accounting for 7% of total giving.
2011 giving result by recipient type:
- Growth in giving to education was particularly strong, up 8.9% to $54.3 billion;
- Human needs/disaster giving lagged other recipient groups, up 5.8% to $38.52 billion;
- Gifts to donor advised funds were at record levels in 2011;
- The percentage of total gifts going to the largest giving sector, religion, decreased from 37% in 2010 to 36% in 2011.