Americans are often cited as the most generous people in the world! Did you know that giving by individuals -- people like you and me -- accounted for 88 percent of all donations made in 2011?
Today the Giving USA Foundation and its research partner, the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, release their annual look at philanthropy in the United States (a survey done annually since 1956), and the news for 2011 is very interesting, giving a snapshot of not just the landscape of charitable donations but of our people and country overall.
Here are some interesting facts. There was $298.42 billion given in 2011 from the U.S., an increase of 4 percent (but just +.9 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars) from 2010's $286.91 billion. Continuing long-term trends, 73 percent came from INDIVIDUALS. That's right. Even counting the huge dollars given each year by such organizations as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, George Soros' Open Society Foundations and other very familiar foundations, individuals gave, in amounts both big and small, 73 percent of all donations last year.
And, as shared earlier in this blog, when bequests and family foundations are added to this amount the total given by individuals was 88%!
The 2011 report shows some encouraging signs. Americans are continuing to give, they are feeling slightly more confident in doing so and they continue to believe in Making a Difference. While that is all good news, there is also the sobering news that the last two years, while showing increases in giving, represent the slowest recovery in 40 years after a recession. It's not surprising that as long as there is continued volatility in the economy, charitable giving will reflect this reality in the coming months and years.
So how to look at this...and what does it mean for you and for me?
Well, it means that American individuals are Making a Difference -- much more than corporations and more than the largest foundations -- by supporting the critical and essential work done by the more than 1.5 million charities in the U.S. as they address issues and needs around the world.
It means that individuals -- just like you -- have a voice in what gets done and how.
And it means that YOU can make change happen, with $10 or $100 or $1,000 or much more, and that the causes you care about are getting their work done because you make it possible.
Here is where American giving is coming from...
- Individuals represented, as noted above, 73 percent of total giving
... and where it's going, with the subsectors that saw increases:
- Education, which ranked second (far behind religion), was 13 percent of the total
These subsectors saw decreases in donations:
- Religion continued to be, as always, the largest of all subsectors and in 2011 was 32 percent of the total. But 2011 was the second straight year showing decreases in the amount given to religious organizations, declining by 1.7 percent
So how do you fit in?
Most importantly is to recognize that you, and your family, truly Make a Difference (M.A.D.). Other studies have shown that about ½ of all donations are made by households with incomes under $100,000 meaning every single donation contributes to making things happen.
Here are five (5) tips consider when deciding on your charitable donations this year that will ensure you are Making A Difference (M.A.D.):
- Think about your greatest interests, and plan to support an organization that works in that area - locally, regionally, nationally or even internationally
After all, though giving is increasing, the need is great and it could take a decade or more to return to pre-recession giving levels. So take a look at where you want to Make a Difference; there are lots of ways to get there. Just consider, are you M.A.D. today?
To learn more about the study on 2011 giving, please visit: