- Charities in America received $307.65 billion in donations last year.
- As in previous years, giving represents about 2% of GDP.
- As we’ve seen historically, individuals are responsible for 75% of the giving ($229.28 billion).
- Foundations, that saw their endowments shrink considerably, did not pull back on their grants as much as was anticipated. Grants from foundations actually grew by 3% (or -0.8% when adjusted for inflation) to $41.21 (13% of total giving).
- Religious charities experienced a 5.5% increase in giving (or 1.6% when adjusted for inflation) to $106.89 billion. Thus, about half of contributions from individuals are directed to religious charities.
- Public Benefit charities grew contributions by 5.4% (1.5% adjusted for inflation) last year to $23.88 billion or 8% of all giving.
- Gifts to International charities were essentially flat with growth of just 0.6% (-3.1% when adjusted for inflation) to $13.3 billion (4% of the total).
- Our generosity declined from 2007 levels (a record $314.07) by 2% in real dollars and 5.7% after adjusting for inflation.
- 1974 was the only other year in the history of this survey (started in 1956) that contributions shrank almost as much (5.4%).
- Specifically, individuals gave 2.7% less in 2008 (-6.3% adjusted for inflation), charitable bequests fell by 2.8% (-6.4% adjusted for inflation) to $22.66 billion (7% of total giving), and corporate giving dropped 4.5% (-8% adjusted for inflation) to $14.5 billion (5% of total giving).
- Human Services charities were the recipients of $25.88 billion in donations representing a dropped 12.7% in current dollars (15.9 % when adjusted for inflation). Only 9% of all giving in 2008 went to these charities. This is disturbing considering the increase in demand for the programs and services offered by these charities. Furthermore, this seems to go against previous reports that show giving to human services charities tends to increase during a recession (although usually not enough to offset the increase in demand).
- Education charities experienced a 5.5% decrease (-9% adjusted for inflation) to $40.94 billion (13% of the total).
- Health charities report a 6.5% decrease (-10% adjusted for inflation) in giving. The $21.64 billion these organizations received represents 7% of total giving in 2008.
- Not surprisingly, given the extensive reports of layoffs and programmatic cutbacks reported by arts groups (detailed on this blog here, here, and here), Giving USA shows that contributions to Arts, Culture, Humanities charities dropped by 6.4% (-9.9% adjusted for inflation) to $12.79 billion. Gifts to arts groups represented 8% of the total giving.
- Giving USA lumps together gifts to Animals and Environment charities. These groups received 2% of the total giving ($6.58) which is a 5.5% decrease (-9% adjusted for inflation).
- It will be quite some time before contributions pick up as the historical data shows that it took three years for giving to rebound after the recession in 1974.