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Black Tie International:
Foundation Center

U.S. Foundation Giving Reaches an Estimated $50.9 Billion in 2012

Despite Continuing Economic Instability, Giving Grows Ahead of Inflation


 Even through a period of unpredictability in the national and global economic and political environment, domestic foundation giving has continued to grow at a moderate pace. According to Key Facts on U.S. Foundations, the Foundation Center's new annual research study, in 2011 the country's 81,777 foundations held $622 billion in assets and distributed $49 billion, an amount estimated to have reached $50.9 billion in 2012.
The outlook for 2013 is for continued modest growth overall.

Key Facts on U.S. Foundations is the primary publication in which the Foundation Center documents the overall size of the U.S. foundation community and provides perspective on the giving priorities of the nation's largest foundations. The contents of the new report have been condensed and streamlined, and it visually presents findings that can be easily understood at a glance.

Among the key findings in the report:

  • Health and education are the top priorities of the country's largest foundations, accounting for almost half of all grant dollars.
  • More than one third (35%) of all grant dollars awarded by the nation's largest foundations were specifically intended to benefit the economically disadvantaged.
  • In 2011, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation made the single largest grant: $967 million over five years to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization.

"It may not be the boom years of the late 1990s or mid-2000s, but the good news is that it looks like U.S. foundations will continue to provide a stable source of support for new ideas and ongoing programs that improve lives around the world," said Steven Lawrence, the Foundation Center's director of research and author of the report about the outlook for 2013. "What's more, this new flagship publication reflects the Foundation Center's commitment to communicating philanthropy's contribution to making a better world by delivering relevant knowledge in an accessible format."

The Foundation Center has long been the authority for data and research on the activities of grantmaking institutions, meeting the need for information on trends in the field and informing decision making at social sector organizations.

Key Facts on U.S. Foundations is accessible at no charge at the Gain Knowledge area of the Foundation Center's web site. To receive future updates on Foundation Center news, sign up here.


About the Foundation Center
Established in 1956, the Foundation Center is the leading source of information about philanthropy worldwide. Through data, analysis, and training, it connects people who want to change the world to the resources they need to succeed. The Center maintains the most comprehensive database on U.S. and, increasingly, global grantmakers and their grants ? a robust, accessible knowledge bank for the sector. It also operates research, education, and training programs designed to advance knowledge of philanthropy at every level. Thousands of people visit the Center's web site each day and are served in its five regional library/learning centers and its network of more than 470 funding information centers located in public libraries, community foundations, and educational institutions nationwide and around the world. For more information, please visit or call(212) 620-4230.


The Foundation Center  79 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10003  (212) 620-4230


More Useful Statistical Info....


Total charitable contributions from American individuals, bequests, corporations and foundations were an estimated
$298.42 billion in 2011,
up from a revised estimate of $286.91 billion for 2010,
Giving USA Foundation™ and its research partner,
 the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.

The entire media kit, with key findings included, may be downloaded by clicking
the link below

Giving USA Foundation | 303 W. Madison St., Suite 2650, Chicago, IL 60606 | 312/981-6794 |


Key Findings

Total estimated charitable giving in the United States increased 4.0 percent in 2011 from 2010 to $298.42 billion in contributions (0.9 percent adjusted for inflation).

This increase reflects similar growth in giving by individuals and a strong year for
giving by bequest.

Giving by individuals rose an estimated 3.9 percent in 2011
(an increase of0.8 percent adjusted for inflation) to $217.79 billion in contributions.

The willingness of individuals to give to charity is associated with their financial
circumstances. While most individuals continue to give in hard economic
times, many will decrease their giving and some will stop giving altogether.
Various economic indicators point to the increased confidence that individuals
had in their financial future in 2011, providing explanation for the
boost in giving by individuals.

Giving by bequest increased an estimated 12.2 percent
(an 8.8 percent increase adjusted for inflation) to $24.41 billion in 2011.

The share of giving by bequest from itemizing estates was 85 percent of the total.

Giving by foundations increased 1.8 percent to an estimated $41.67 billion in
2011, according to figures provided by the Foundation Center. However,
adjusted for inflation, giving by foundations declined 1.3 percent in 2011.

Giving by corporations is estimated to have held steady in 2011 compared
with 2010, totaling $14.55 billion (a 0.1 percent decline in current dollars,
or a decline of 3.1 percent adjusted for inflation). This estimate includes
giving by corporations and corporate foundations.

Giving to religion decreased an estimated 1.7 percent from 2010, totaling
$95.88 billion in 2011. Inflation-adjusted giving to the religion subsector is
estimated to have declined 4.7 percent from 2010. Reports from various
research institutions analyzing giving to religious organizations reveal
downward trends in giving, particularly among certain Christian
denominations. 3.9% 12.2% 1.8% 1.7%

Giving to education is estimated to have increased 4.0 percent between
2010 and 2011 to $38.87 billion in contributions. Adjusted for inflation,
giving to educational organizations was flat at a 0.9 percent increase.
Contributing to this increase was strong growth in giving to higher
educational institutions in the 2010-11 fiscal year.

Giving to foundations is estimated to have declined by 6.1 percent in 2011
to $25.83 billion in contributions. Adjusted for inflation, giving to foundations
is estimated to have declined by 8.9 percent.

Giving to human services rose an estimated 2.5 percent in 2011 compared
with 2010, totaling $35.39 billion. Adjusted for inflation, giving to human
services organizations is estimated to have held flat between 2010 and 2011
(a -0.6 percent change). Nevertheless, inflation-adjusted giving to these
organizations is the third-highest amount ever recorded
 (behind 2008 and 2010).

Giving to health organizations is estimated to have increased 2.7 percent in
2011 from 2010 (-0.4 percent adjusted for inflation), with $24.75 billion in
total contributions.

The 2011 Million Dollar List reports an 80 percent
increase in the amount of announced million-dollar-and-up gifts given by
individuals to the health subsector in 2011 compared with 2010.3
Giving to public-society benefit organizations increased by an estimated 4.0
percent in 2011 to $21.37 billion from 2010. Adjusted for inflation, giving
to public-society benefit organizations held flat at 0.9 percent growth
between 2010 and 2011.
Free-standing donor-advised funds are included in
the estimate for this subsector. The three largest donor-advised fund
administrators—Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund, Schwab Charitable Fund,
and Vanguard Charitable Endowment Program—realized average growth
in received contributions of 77 percent between 2010 and 2011.4
4.0% 2.7% 2.5% 6.1% 4.0%

Giving to arts, culture, and humanities is estimated to have increased 4.1
percent in 2011 from 2010, with $13.12 billion in total contributions.
Adjusted for inflation, giving to the arts, culture, and humanities subsector
is estimated to have increased 1.0 percent. Bolstering giving to the arts subsector
was an $800 million cash gift to Crystal Bridges Museum of
American Art in Arkansas from the Walton Family Foundation. This was
the largest cash donation ever recorded to an art museum
in the United States.

Giving to international affairs is estimated to be $22.68 billion in 2011, an
increase of 7.6 percent from 2010. Adjusted for inflation, giving to international
affairs organizations is estimated to have risen 4.4 percent in 2011
from 2010. Donations to the international affairs subsector amounted to 8
percent of all donations across the subsectors in 2011, three percentage
points higher than reported in Giving USA 2011.

Giving to environmental and animal organizations is estimated to have
increased 4.6 percent from 2010 to $7.81 billion in total contributions.
Adjusted for inflation, donations to the environment/animals subsector are
estimated to have increased 1.4 percent from 2010. Million-dollar-and-up
gifts to support continued clean-up efforts for the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf
of Mexico boosted giving to this subsector in 2011.

Giving to individuals is estimated to have increased 9.0 percent from 2010
to $3.75 billion. The bulk of these donations are in-kind gifts of
medications to patients in need made through the Patient Assistance
Programs (PAP) of pharmaceutical companies’ operating foundations.
Unallocated giving totaled $8.97 billion in 2011. This amount includes
itemized deductions by individuals (and households) carried over from
previous years, which is the difference in the tax year in which a gift is
claimed by the donor (carried over) and the year when the recipient
organization reports it as revenue (the year in which it is received).

Unallocated giving also includes gifts to government entities, which do
not report charitable contributions at the national level; gifts made to
entities in other countries by foundations; and gifts made to new organizations
that have not yet been classified. In addition, when a donor forms
a charitable trust and takes a deduction, but does not tell the recipient organization,
there is an unallocated amount. 9.0% 4.6% 7.6% 4.1%

Key findings GIVING USA 2012
1 Foundation Center, Foundation Growth and
Giving Estimates: Current Outlook, 2012
Edition, May 2012,

2 “2012 Voluntary Support for Education Survey
(VSE),” Council for Aid to Education, 2012, .

3 The 2011 Million Dollar List, accessed March
2012, . The Million
Dollar List, because it is based on media
reports, is not a scientific sample of gifts, nor
does it include all gifts of $1 million or more. It
is estimated that the gifts on the Million Dollar
List represent one-quarter of all donations
 of $1 million or more.

4 “Fidelity Charitable Reports Record-Breaking
Year in Both Grants to Nonprofits and New
Charitable Contributions,” January 24, 2012,  “Schwab Charitable
Sees Increased Level of Giving and Granting,”
December 14, 2011, :
“Vanguard Charitable Reports Record
Contributions and Rise in Corporate and
Private Foundation Participation for Calendar
Year 2011,” January 25, 2012,   .

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