Report Proves Charitable Giving Outpaced Economic Growth in 2011


Atlas of Giving recently announced results from its 2011 report on charitable giving.  The report outlines charitable giving in the United States from 2011 and details how giving expanded at a faster rate than overall economic growth for the year.  According to the report, total giving to U.S. nonprofits rose 7.5% in 2011, an increase of $24.2 billion over the 2010 total of $322.69 billion and its forecast shows that overall giving is expected to grow 3.9% in 2012 to $360 billion, a slower rate than 2011 growth.

“2011 giving growth was fueled by strong stock market performance through July, low interest rates, an improving economy, modest inflation, and aggressive solicitation” Rob Mitchell, Atlas of Giving CEO, said.  “However, the increase was not enjoyed by all nonprofits.  Organizations that rely on many small gifts from many small donors are still greatly impacted by the effects of continuing high unemployment.”

The forecast is expected to change as events unfold during the year.  Natural and man-made disasters, economic events, and many other things affect the velocity and trajectory of charitable giving results.  The Atlas of Giving actively monitors the factors affecting giving and provides monthly updates of the forecast to account for these.

“Overall, we’ve enjoyed a strong resurgence in giving.  However, it’s important to remember that different economic factors are tied to giving at different nonprofits, different donor types, and different geographies.  Some do well, others don’t,” Mitchell, said. “Because high unemployment disproportionately affects small gift donors, some very large nationwide nonprofits who rely on many small gifts from individuals continue to struggle in this economy.  The effects of high unemployment are long-lasting.  Giving after re-employment does not resume for several years as these individuals satisfy postponed expenses like replacing and maintaining cars and other household items. Universities are doing well because alumni are not struggling with unemployment and major gift donors are giving from assets and not income.”


Highlights from the Atlas of Giving Report:

2011 giving result by donor type

-Individual giving grew 7.8% to $260.18 billion accounting for 75% of total giving.

-Corporate giving grew 6.4% to $17.57 billion accounting for 5% of total giving.

-Foundation giving grew 6.2% to $44.73 billion accounting for 13% of total giving.

-Bequests giving grew 7.5% to $22.69 billion accounting for 7% of total giving.


2011 giving result by recipient type

-Growth in giving to education was particularly strong, up 9.8% to $54.3 billion.

-Human needs/disaster giving lagged other recipient groups, up 5.8% to $38.52 billion.

-Gifts to donor advised funds were at record levels in 2011.

-The percentage of total gifts going to the largest giving sector, religion, decreased from 37% in 2010 to 36% in 2011.


2011 giving by state

-Giving growth was particularly strong in four states: Pennsylvania up 13.1%, Illinois up 12.5%, Florida up 10.9%, and Texas up 10.0%.


2012 giving forecast

-The forecast is bright for charities with an environmental mission, projected to be up 8%.

-Giving to churches and religion is forecast to grow at less than half the rate of overall giving growth – up just 1.6%

-Political fundraising will divert some dollars from charitable giving but the impact will not be significant overall accounting for much less than 1% of the charitable giving annual total.

On February 1, 2012, at 12p.m. EST (1p.m. CST, 2p.m. MST, 3p.m. PST) the Atlas of Giving 2011 results and 2012 forecast will be presented in detail during a free webinar.  Members of the media, nonprofit staff and board members, as well as financial analysts are welcome to participate.  To register, go to and type in the participant code 79508108.


About Atlas of Giving

The Atlas of Giving is an economic intelligence tool created to measure and reliably forecast charitable giving in the United StatesThe Atlas of Giving was originally engineered by Philanthromax, LLC in 2010. Data from the Atlas of Giving is gathered from a series of proprietary algorithms using multiple economic and demographic variables. The algorithms  match published giving data for the last 42 years with a 99.5% coefficient of correlation. The Atlas of Giving accounts for the entire giving economy and is the most precise and timely measurement of total charitable giving in the United States. For more information, visit



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