$6.4 billion U.S. nonprofit giving drop in 2008 largest decline on record

Overall giving in the United States declined last year by 2 percent, the largest drop since Giving USA has been keeping records of America’s donation. According to The NonProfit Times article, giving by individuals again made up about three-quarters of all giving, but declines in foundation endowments and grantmaking might make for an even more challenging environment for next year’s report.

The $307.65 billion giving estimate is a decline of $6.42 billion. Giving by individuals was $229.28 billion, down almost 3 percent from the previous year and 6 percent when adjusted for inflation. Bequests, which made up 7 percent of overall giving, or $22.66 billion, were down 2.8 percent (6.4 percent inflation adjusted). Corporate giving was off 4.5 percent (8 percent), totaling $14.5 billion, or 5 percent of all donations.“There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that charitable giving would be down,” said Del Martin, chair of Giving USA Foundation. “However, what we find remarkable is that individuals, corporations and foundations still provided more than $307 billion, despite the economic conditions,” she said.

The only subsectors that experienced an increase last year were religion, public society-benefit and international affairs. Foundations and human services experienced the largest declines.

A look at the numbers:

  • Religion: $106.89 billion, +5.5 percent (1.6 percent inflation adjusted)
  • Education: $40.94 billion, -5.5 percent (-9 percent)
  • Foundation: $32.65 billion, -19.2 percent (-22.2 percent)
  • Human services: $25.88 billion, -12.7 percent (-15.9 percent)
  • Public society benefit: $23.88 billion, +5.4 percent (+1.5 percent)
  • Health, $21.64 billion: -6.5 percent (-10 percent)
  • International affairs: $13.3 billion, +0.6 percent (-3.1 percent)
  • Arts/culture/humanities: $12.79 billion, -6.4 percent (-9.9 percent)
  • Environment/animal: $6.58 billion, -5.5 percent (-9 percent)

Though education experienced a drop, it still accounted for 13 percent of all charitable dollars, second only to religion at 35 percent.

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