Giving USA 2021: Americans gave a record $471.44 billion to charity in 2020 during an uncertain and challenging year

Total estimated charitable giving in the United States rose 5.1 percent between 2019 and 2020 despite the many challenges of 2020

Editor’s Note:
Please join Byrne Pelofsky + Associates, LLC, Bank of America and Nonprofit Connect for 16 Years of presenting Giving USA to Kansas City. This special presentation of Giving USA 2021: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2020 will be held on Friday, June 18, via webinar. The program will begin at 10:00 a.m. Register here.

According to Giving USA 2021: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2020, American individuals, bequests, foundations and corporations gave an estimated $471.44 billion to U.S. charities in 2020. Despite facing three pandemics in 2020 – the public health crisis, the economic recession and a global reckoning with institutional and systemic racism – the report places 2020 among the highest years ever for charitable giving.

Giving USA, the longest-running and most comprehensive report of its kind in America identifies trends in charitable giving that are important to the nonprofit sector’s success and growth. Organizations can use the data from Giving USA to inform fundraising strategies and allocate resources for the greatest outcomes.

There were a number of key takeaways from Giving USA 2021 including:

  • Giving by foundations reached a record 19% of total giving in 2020
  • Online giving grew 13% in 2020, its highest share of total giving on record and proved to be an important strategy for many nonprofits in 2020.
  • Giving by individuals grew to 69% of total giving due in part to mega-gifts from individual donors like Mackenzie Scott ($5.734 billion donated in 2020) who gave direct, unrestricted funds to a number of nonprofits in 2020

“I am very excited to present this data to the Kansas City nonprofit community,” says Jeffrey Byrne, Co-Founder and CEO of Byrne Pelofsky + Associates. “The data in Giving USA 2021 demonstrates the enormous innovation and resiliency of the nonprofit sector. We saw unprecedented innovation in fundraising models and a record increase in giving. There is a lot to celebrate.”

The Numbers for 2020 Charitable Giving by Source:

Giving by individuals totaled an estimated $324.10 billion, rising 2.2% in 2020 (an increase of 1.0%, adjusted for inflation). 

Giving by foundations increased 17%, to an estimated $88.55 billion in 2020 (an increase of 15.6% adjusted for inflation). 

Giving by bequest totaled an estimated $41.91 billion in 2020, with a growth rate of 10.3% from 2019 (an increase of 9.0% when adjusted for inflation).

Giving by corporations is estimated to have declined by 6.1% in 2020, totaling $16.88 billion (a decline of 7.3% adjusted for inflation). Corporate giving includes cash and in-kind contributions made through corporate giving programs, as well as grants and gifts made by corporate foundations)

Highlights about Charitable Giving by Source:

  • Three out of four sources of giving saw solid growth (individuals, foundations and bequests) and corporate giving declined
  • Giving by foundations reached a record 19% of total giving in 2020, but giving by individuals is still the largest share of total giving.
  • Growth in giving by foundations & individuals has been linked to the stock market performance.
  • Factors that impacted corporate giving in 2020 include a decline in GDP by 2.3% and corporate pre-tax profits declined by 3.5%

The Numbers for 2020 Charitable Giving to Recipients:

Giving to religion grew slightly by 1.0% between 2019 and 2020, with an estimated $131.08 billion in contributions (a decline of 0.2% adjusted for inflation).   

Giving to education is estimated to have increased 9.0% between 2019 and 2020 to $71.34 billion (7.7% adjusted for inflation).

Giving to human services increased by an estimated 9.7% in 2020, totaling $65.14 billion (8.4% increase adjusted for inflation). 

Giving to foundations is estimated to have increased by 2.0% to $58.17 billion (stayed flat at 0.8% adjusted for inflation).

Giving to health organizations is estimated to have declined by 3.0% between 2019 and 2020 to $42.12 billion (a decline of 4.2% adjusted for inflation).

Giving to public-society benefit organizations increased an estimated 15.7% to $48.00 billion (increase of 14.3% adjusted for inflation). 

Giving to arts, culture, and humanities is estimated to have declined 7.5% to $19.47 billion (declined 8.6% adjusted for inflation).

Giving to international affairs is estimated to have increased by 9.1% from 2019 to 2020 to a total of $25.89 billion (an increase of 7.8% adjusted for inflation).

Giving to environment and animal organizations is estimated to have increased 11.6% between 2019 and 2020 to $16.14 billion (an increase of 10.3% adjusted for inflation).

Highlights about 2020 Giving to Charitable Organizations:

  • Seven out of nine subsectors grew in 2020.
  • Human services experienced rapid growth in 2020. This growth continues a pattern seen in previous recessionary years, as well as years where the U.S. has experienced a crisis.
  • Giving to arts, culture, and humanities declined by 7.5% in 2020. The shutdowns in the pandemic impacted in-person events for many arts organizations, culture, and humanities organizations.

“The 2020 report is being released at a critical time in our economy, and will help us understand the evolution of philanthropy,” says Byrne. “The data tells us that Americans are generous and have shown tremendous support for the nonprofit sector throughout the upheaval of 2020. I’m proud of our nonprofit community for their tenacity and creativity during this unprecedented year.”

Giving USAthe longest-running and most comprehensive report of its kind 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.

3 Comments

  • RAJENDRA WANCHOO says:

    I am writing to request you all to please pledge financial donation as well as funds for purchase and / supply of ventilators, oxygen concentrators, cylinders, refill cylinders, hospital beds, Covid test kits, supply basic dry ration, basic medical care at the door step in these dark and difficult times, hospital expenses and medicine for needy families, food for those isolating at home & cremation expenses so to help our needy and brethren members to develop a more resilient healthcare system in India. We are further trying to provide financial monthly aid and other assistance to children who have lost their parents to Covid-19, along with helping them in admission for school / college education.

  • RAJENDRA WANCHOO says:

    I am writing to request you all to please pledge financial donation as well as funds for purchase and / supply of ventilators, oxygen concentrators, cylinders, refill cylinders, hospital beds, Covid test kits, supply basic dry ration, basic medical care at the door step in these dark and difficult times, hospital expenses and medicine for needy kashmiri families, food for those isolating at home & cremation expenses so to help our needy and brethren members to develop a more resilient healthcare system in India. We are further trying to provide financial monthly aid and other assistance to children who have lost their parents to Covid-19, along with helping them in admission for school / college education.

  • GIVINg usa I found out that you are a thief a liar and a dog and a Jew and dirty because you refused to help a very poor old man in the world I am very tired with my children. i am very poor i don’t have the money to buy a house and save my children in tunisia. all the doors were closed in front of me in tunisia and in the world i made advertisements on the internet for all the rich women and men in the world but no answer finally right you are a liar and a thief and dirty and a terroriste

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