Charitable Giving in U.S. Continues to Rise

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Donations by Americans rose to a record $358.38 billion last year.

Mirroring growth in the domestic economy, charitable giving by Americans rose to a record $358.38 billion last year, surpassing a previous high of $355.17 billion in 2007, according to a closely watched annual report.

The study from the Giving USA Foundation, a Chicago-based nonprofit, uses data from the Internal Revenue Service and the Bureau of Economic Analysis among other sources, and looks at all donations—from individuals to corporations, to churches and museums.

In inflation-adjusted dollars, total giving rose 5.4% over 2013, according to the report. As a percentage of gross domestic product—widely considered a factor in how much donors give to charity—giving was 2.1%.

Last year was the fifth straight year of growth for the charitable sector. The rebound from the recession occurred faster than researchers expected, said Patrick Rooney, who has a Ph.D. in economics and is the associate dean for academic affairs and research at Indiana University.

“I think people are more comfortable with the notion that we are not going to have a double-dip recession,” said Dr. Rooney, adding that the impact of very large gifts—those over $100 million—is “playing an increasingly important role” in philanthropy.

About half of individual giving comes from 4% of the population, according to Keith Curtis, chairman of the Giving USA Foundation and a philanthropy consultant based in Virginia Beach, Va.

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