Giving USA: Charitable Donations Grew in 2012, but Slowly, Like the Economy

In third straight year of gains, contributions reach $316.23 billion from American individuals, corporations and foundations

Even with households across the country feeling continued financial pressure, Americans donated an estimated $316.23 billion to charitable causes in 2012. Modest overall gains in total contributions mirrored the nation’s recent economic trends, Giving USA Foundation™ and its research partner, the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, announced today.

The 3.5 percent year-over-year growth rate (1.5 percent adjusted for inflation) in gifts from American individuals (both households and bequests from their estates), corporations and foundations matches the same figurative portrait of 2012’s economic indicators – some trends were positive, others were negative, but overall, there was growth. Federal tax policy shifts likely also played a role in giving decisions made last year.

Beyond financial pressures, 2012 also saw policy changes considered at the federal level that could alter future giving, including proposals aimed at capping or eliminating the longstanding charitable tax deduction. “Although the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 preserved the deduction, the publicly aired proposals may have fueled some giving decisions,” said David H. King, CFRE, chair of the Giving Institute.

“Philanthropic giving fares best in a known environment, and has been dependent, in part, on certain factors holding true over the decades, including the charitable tax deduction,” said King. “The uncertainty among donors created by policy makers’ examination of the charitable deduction likely influenced giving in two very different ways in 2012. Some donors may have ‘prepaid’ gifts they had intended to make in 2013 to ensure they received a tax benefit, while others may have chosen not to donate out of concern that deductions for very large gifts would not carry over in 2013 and beyond.”

giving20131

giving20132

For the full report go to www.givingusareport.org/2013.