Charitable giving rose in 2013, but has yet to reach its pre-recession peak, in part because of a decline in corporate giving.
Americans gave $335.2 billion to charity in 2013, according a report by Giving USA and the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University. That's a 4.4% increase, adjusted for inflation, from the $320.97 billion given in 2012.
Individuals were by far the biggest contributors to charity in 2013, giving 72%, or $240.6 billion, last year. 'You could make the argument that individuals gave 87%,' says L. Greg Carlson, chairman of the Giving USA Foundation. After all, 8% came from bequests and 15% came from foundations, about half of which are funded by individuals.
Despite record profits in 2013, corporate giving fell 1.9% in 2013, accounting for $17.9 billion of all charitable giving, or about 5% of the total. One reason: Companies make their budgets in the previous year, and in much of the second half of 2012, companies were worried about a combination of tax increases and budget cuts the so-called 'fiscal cliff.'
Religious organizations remain the top recipient of the nation's giving, accounting for 31%, or $105.4 billion, of all giving. That percentage shrank 0.2% in 2013, part of a longstanding trend: As fewer people fill the pews, less money goes to religious organizations, Carlson says.
'I can remember when it was 57% of giving,' Carlson says. 'It's just getting to be a smaller and smaller percentage of the pie.'
Education was the next-largest charity category at 16%, or $52.1 billion, up 8.9%. Human services organizations claimed 12%, or $41.5 billion. Giving to the arts gained 7.8%, to $16.7 billion.
Thanks to the roaring bull market of 2013, investors were often inclined to give shares of appreciated stock or other securities last year, says Kim Laughton, President of Schwab Charitable. About 65% of contribution to Schwab's donor-advised fund were in the form of appreciated securities.
For individuals, giving appreciated securities is a double whammy. The donor can deduct the full market value of the securities, and avoid paying taxes on any capital gains.