The good news from the annual GivingUSA report (PDF) on U.S. philanthropy is that total giving for 2008 was estimated to have exceeded $300 billion for the second year in a row, for a total of $307.65 billion. But, unfortunately, most of the news was bad. This was a two percent drop in current dollars (not adjusted for inflation) compared to 2007’s $314.07 billion. Taking inflation into account, U.S. giving was down 5.7 percent, the largest drop since the group began tracking donations in 1956.
Individual giving, the largest component of charitable contributions (75 percent of the total), was down 2.7 percent compared with 2007 estimates (-6.3 percent adjusted for inflation). Corporate giving decreased 4.5 percent (-8 percent when adjusted for inflation). While giving to groups classified as Religious or Public-Society Benefit increased by approximately 1.5 percent each (adjusted for inflation), most groups saw decreases of between 3 and 22 percent (again, adjusted for inflation).
Check out this transcript of an online discussion the Chronicle of Philanthropy held to discuss the report and its implications on nonprofits and other recipients of charitable donations.
Photo: Peter Gerdes