Planning Matters | Sharpe Group
Posted August 1st, 2001

Planning Matters

In its annual Giving USA report, the American Association of Fund-Raising Counsel (AAFRC) Trust for Philanthropy released its estimates of charitable giving in 2000 in late May. Total giving was estimated at $203.45 billion, an increase of 6.6% over 1999’s estimate of $190.16 billion. Of special interest to gift planners, the report indicates that an estimated $16.02 billion came in the form of bequests—an increase of 2.6% from 1999. Bequests accounted for 7.8% of all charitable contributions made in 2000. Altogether, 82.6% of all gifts came from individuals.

More giving facts

Other Giving USA 2001 statistics point out the broad-based increases in giving to all types of organizations:

  • Giving to religious organizations increased 4.3%, reaching $74.31 billion—accounting for 36.5% of all charitable gifts.
  • Gifts to education reached $28.18 billion—up 2.6% from 1999 and totaling 13.8% of all charitable gifts.
  • Giving to health-related organizations represented 9.3% of all giving—up 4.9% to $18.82 billion.
  • Human services organizations received $17.99 billion—a 3.6% increase from 1999.
  • Contributions to arts organizations were $11.5 billion—an increase of 3.9%.
  • At 5.9%, the highest percentage increase in giving was experienced by public/society benefit organizations—exceeding $11 billion for the first time.
  • Environment and wildlife organizations received $6.16 billion—a 5.7% increase from 1999.
  • Gifts to international affairs organizations increased 2.6% to $2.71 billion. 


These figures once again illustrate that the spirit of philanthropy in America continues to be resilient in the wake of significant losses in investment markets beginning in early 2000, and a general slowdown in the long period of economic expansion that began in the early 1990s. While growth percentages varied somewhat depending on the nature of the cause, all segments of the nonprofit sector participated in the growth experienced in the year 2000.

Looking to the future, based on the aging of the U. S. donor population (see “Making Sense of the Census”), one might expect bequests and other planned gifts to comprise an increasing percentage of the dollars donated each year. Bequests already comprise upwards of 30% of the annual gift income of many of the nation’s leading health organizations, and other types of organizations can perhaps expect their percentages to grow nearer these levels as a comparable portion of their support base begins to be comprised of an older group of persons.

For more information or to order a copy of Giving USA 2001, please call AAFRC Trust for Philanthropy at 1-800-46-AAFRC or visit their Web site at

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