Increase in US charitable giving owing to corporate gifts

A report published by international news agency AFP indicates that charitable giving in the US increase in corporate gifts modestly rose in 2012, boosted by a marked increase in corporate gifts along with apprehensions about certain tax changes that could possibly curtail future deductions, according to a survey. It was conducted by Indiana University’s school of philanthropy and Giving USA Foundation. What are the key highlights of this report?

  • It shows Americans donated roughly $316 billion to charitable causes in 2012, up 3.5 percent and 1.5 percent adjusted for inflation over 2011. However, the figure still falls short of the benchmark high of $344 billion back in 2007 and Osili says it will likely take six years for giving to return to that level.
  • The report indicates giving by foundations rose 4.4 percent in 2012, which is in line with charitable donations, giving to the arts and humanitarian causes rose 7.8 percent and giving by corporations rose 12.2 percent. However, it also shows that giving to religious institutions remained flat in 2012. Una Osili, Director of Research at the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy attributed that in part to uncertainty about the continued role of religion in the lives of Americans.
  • Some areas which had been struggling for donations in recent years saw gains: gifts to arts, culture, and humanities organizations rose an estimated 7.8 percent and charities focused on the environment and animals saw a 6.8 percent rise. Gifts for education rose an estimated seven percent to $41.33 billion. More than two-third in this category went to four-year colleges and universities.
  • According to Osili, the overall increase is line with the economic recovery. “If the economy does improve over time, we should see giving numbers start to return to their prerecession highs,” the expert stated. “When you consider all the factors that go into determining how much we give to charity, modest growth makes sense and is actually encouraging,” said Gregg Carlson, Giving USA Foundation chair.

Carlson added, “A majority of households are pressured at almost all economic corners. However, the longstanding social contract between them and the nonprofits that they believe is still intact and resilient; many treat giving as an important budget item. The amount might go up or down depending upon economic realities, but it won’t go away.”

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