Total charitable giving grew 5.1 percent on a year-over-year basis in 2020 (3.8 percent, adjusted for inflation), the latest edition of the Giving USA report finds.
Produced by the Giving USA Foundation and the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, Giving USA 2021: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2020 (key findings, 5 pages, PDF) estimates that charitable giving totaled $471.44 billion last year, up from a revised $448.66 billion in 2019. According to the report, giving by individuals in 2020 totaled a record $324.1 billion, up 2.2 percent (1 percent, adjusted for inflation), even as its share of total giving remained below 70 percent for the third consecutive year. Giving by foundations jumped 17 percent (15.6 percent), to an estimated $88.55 billion, while bequests increased 10.3 percent (9 percent), to $41.91 billion. By contrast, cash and in-kind corporate giving fell 6.1 percent (-7.3 percent), to $16.88 billion.
In terms of issue area, giving to public-society benefit organizations saw the largest increase, growing 15.7 percent (14.3 percent, adjusted for inflation), followed by environmental and animal welfare groups, up 11.6 percent (10.3 percent), to $16.14 billion; human services organizations, up 9.7 percent (8.4 percent), to $65.14 billion; international affairs-related causes, up 9.1 percent (7.8 percent), to $25.89 billion; and foundations, up 2 percent (0.8 percent), to $58.17 billion. Giving to health organizations fell 3 percent (-4.2 percent), to $42.12 billion, due in part to declines in revenue from fundraising walks, runs, and other events. The arts, culture, and humanities sector saw the largest decline in giving, down 7.5 percent (-8.6 percent), to $19.47 billion.
"In some ways, 2020 is a story of uneven impact and uneven recovery. Many wealthier households were more insulated from the effects of COVID-19 and the ensuing economic shock, and they may have had greater capacity to give charitably than households and communities that were disproportionately affected and struggled financially," said Amir Pasic, the Eugene R. Tempel Dean of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. "Similarly, growth in the S&P 500 in recent years and the market recovery in 2020 positioned foundations to respond to the year's challenges, with the result that giving by foundations reached its largest-ever share of total giving, at 19 percent. Still, for many people and communities, the need remained great throughout the year and beyond."