FORT WORTH — Giving USA 2021: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2020, released today, reports that individuals, bequests, foundations and corporations gave an estimated $471.44 billion to U.S. charities in 2020. Total charitable giving grew 5.1% measured in current dollars over the revised total of $448.66 billion contributed in 2019. Adjusted for inflation, total giving increased 3.8%. (Please see below for a more detailed breakdown of the numbers for each philanthropic source and sector.)
Giving USA, the longest-running and most comprehensive report on the sources and uses of charitable giving in America, is published by Giving USA Foundation, a public service initiative of The Giving Institute. It is researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI.
Last year was challenging according to many economic measures. GDP declined by 2.3% from 2019. However, the passage of the CARES Act and the possibility of an approved COVID-19 vaccine helped markets rebound in the second half of the year, when most charitable giving occurs. By the end of 2020, the S&P 500, which is closely related to giving, grew 16.3%. Personal income, a factor that is significantly linked to individual giving, grew 6.1%. Giving by foundations skyrocketed, and giving by individuals and bequests also showed growth. Giving by corporations, which is more closely tied to GDP, declined.
Much of the main charitable giving categories experienced growth: animals and environment, education, foundations, human services, international affairs, and public-society benefit organizations. Other giving categories were negatively impacted by the pandemic. Hit hard by community-wide closures and unable to provide in-person programming, giving to arts, culture and humanities declined by 8.6%. Giving to health also declined, reflecting cancellations and less participation in walks, runs, and other disease-specific fundraising events. Adjusted for inflation, giving to religion was flat, reflecting a slight decline of 0.2% in 2020.
“Americans responded generously to the outcry from the pandemic in 2020. Our nonprofits demonstrated both innovation and resiliency and put the gifts they received to work,” said Missy Gale, CFRE, President & CEO of M. Gale & Associates. “It’s important to remember that the need continues for many people across the country today, as families continue to struggle with overwhelming losses of loved ones, jobs and homes.”