Despite a recession and the terrorist crisis, Americans gave an estimated $212 billion to charity in 2001, according to a recent report by the American Association of Fundraising Counsel Trust for Philanthropy.

The study, Giving USA, reported that the 2001 giving total is a 0.5 percent increase over the $210.89 billion given in 2000. Adjusted for inflation, giving in 2001 is a decrease of 2.3 percent compared to the previous year.

“Research shows that giving is closely tied to the economy. Not surprisingly, giving in 2001 fits the pattern that we have seen during previous recessions,” Leo P. Arnoult, chair of the AAFRC Trust for Philanthropy, said in a press release. “Despite fears last fall that giving might decline precipitously, in fact, the change in giving in 2001 falls within the normal range for a recession year.”

In spite of the recession, charitable contributions in 2001 stayed above 2 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to the report.

“Americans’ commitment to philanthropy remained strong even in the face of downward economic pressures,” John J. Glier, chair of the AAFRC, said in a press release. “The $212 billion total is the highest level of giving ever reported. Even adjusted for inflation, the total is the second-highest on record.”

Giving USA tracks four types of giving: gifts from living individuals; gifts made through bequests; gifts from corporations and corporate foundations; and grants from foundations.

In 2001, individual donors gave an estimated $160.72 billion, up 1.1 percent from 2000. Bequest giving, on the other hand, dropped about 4.5 percent from the previous year. Corporate giving fell an estimated 12.1 percent, while foundation grants increased about 5.4 percent.

Gifts made to Sept. 11-related relief funds totaled slightly less than 1 percent of the total $212 billion. The report estimated that about $1.88 billion was given to the major national Sept. 11 relief funds as of the end of 2001.

“People are more aware than ever of the role philanthropy plays in our lives and communities,” Eugene R. Tempel, executive director of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, which researches and writes Giving USA, said in the press release. “Giving USA estimates are important information about this vital dimension of our society and about the gifts that enable charitable organizations to fulfill their missions.”

Share This