Few people realize how large charities have become, how many vital services they provide, and how much funding flows through them each year. Without charities and non-profits, America would simply not be able to operate. Their operations are so big that during 2012, total giving was more than $316 billion.
How big is the sector?
- Total charitable giving rose for the third straight year.
- Total giving to charitable organizations was $316.23 billion in 2012 (about 2% of GDP). This is an increase of 3.5% from 2011.
- As in previous years, the majority of that giving came from individuals. Specifically, individuals gave roughly $223 billion (72%) representing a 3.9% increase over 2011.
- Giving by bequest was $22.14 billion (down a whopping 7%), foundations gave $47.44 billion (up 4.4%), and corporations donated $18.97 billion (up 12.2%).
- Corporate giving accounts for just 6% of the total giving in 2012 which is actually a 12.2% increase from 2011.
- Most types of charities saw increases in donations. The two exceptions were Religion and Foundations. Arts, Environment and Animal organizations saw the largest increase which indicates that donors may be returning to their personal giving priorities (which they strayed from during the height of the recession in favor of supporting Food Banks and other Human Services charities).
- Historically, Religious groups have received the largest share of charitable donations. While this is still true in 2012, the percentage dropped by 2% from 2011.
- Even with the decrease in donations, 32% of all donations went to Religious organizations. Much of these contributions can be attributed to people giving to their local place of worship. The next largest sector was Education with 13% of all donations.
- Billionaire donors are starting to give at rates not seen since the beginning of the economic downturn.
- Revised Giving USA data shows that total giving as a percentage of GDP has barely strayed from 2% over the past four decades despite the huge growth in the number of charities. This figure climbed to a high of 2.3% in 2000, but otherwise tends to gravitate to 2% of GDP.
- Total giving in 2012 was 8.2% below giving in 2007, before the charitable sector felt the effects of the recession. If the pace of growth in charitable giving stays constant in the coming years, giving will not rebound to pre-recession levels until 2018.
All data is the property of Giving USA 2013, the Annual Report on Philanthropy.