Bequests Lead the Way in Growth as Charitable Giving Nears Record Levels

bequest chartAfter peaking in 2007 at $349.5 billion (adjusted for inflation), charitable giving in America experienced a sharp decline in 2008 and 2009 during the Great Recession and financial crisis. Since then, a gradual recovery in giving has been underway. The recently released Giving USA 2014 report reveals that the giving recovery continued in 2013, with gifts from individuals, estates, corporations and foundations totaling $335 billion, a gain of 4.4 percent over 2012.

Gifts from individuals and bequests accounted for 80 percent of the total, while foundations and corporations provided the remaining 20 percent. In fact, gifts from individuals totaled $240.6 billion, up $9.69 billion from 2012.

Gifts from living individuals rose 4.2 percent, while charitable bequests increased by 8.7 percent. Taxpayers who itemized charitable gifts reported $199.2 billion, and non-itemized giving was estimated at $41.2 billion in 2013. An estimated $21.2 billion came from bequest giving from estates of $1 million and above, and another $6.6 billion in bequests came from estates below $1 million. Giving by foundations increased 5.7 percent, while corporate contributions (other than foundations) slipped slightly by 1.9 percent.

The 2013 estimates for overall giving in America indicate the general trend in recovery is continuing. If giving levels keep increasing at the rate seen in the previous two years, charitable giving could actually exceed pre-recession levels this year or next.

For more information on current trends in giving by donor source or recipient sector, visit


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