Philanthropic Contributions Rise in 2012, According to Annual Giving USA Survey

The nonprofit sector as a whole is continuing to see improvement in philanthropic giving, says the Giving USA report of 2012 contributions. Philanthropic giving in 2012 totaled $316.23 billion, 3.5 percent higher than 2011.


2013 contributions by source


2013 contributionb by recipient type

Giving by corporations jumped the most in 2012, rising more than 12 percent over 2011 levels. Corporate giving, however, continues to be a relatively small percentage of total donations annually, accounting for only 6 percent of total philanthropic contributions.

As in years past, donations from individuals comprised the largest segment of giving: $228.93 billion, equal to 72 percent of contributions. Foundations followed at $45.74 billion, or 15 percent of contributions; bequests totaled 7 percent of all giving, $23.41 billion. The types of organizations that garnered the most contributions also followed the trend of recent years, with religion receiving 32 percent of philanthropic dollars ($101.54 billion), followed by education at 13 percent ($41.33 billion) and human services, also at 13 percent ($40.40 billion). Giving to religious organizations, however, declined 2.2 percent between 2011 and 2012, while support of educational institutions grew 4.9 percent during that same time period. Donations to foundations declined 2.5 percent in 2012 after a marked increase of 12.9 percent in 2011.

Although contributions to charitable organizations grew between 2011 and 2012, some statistics have remained relatively constant throughout the past three decades. Total giving as a percentage of the United States’ Gross Domestic Product (in inflation-adjusted dollars) has hovered between 1.7 percent and 2.2 percent for four decades. Individual giving as a percentage of total disposable personal income has also remained relatively constant, between 1.8 percent and 2.2 percent for the same time period.

Overall, giving remains lower than its 2007 high of about $345 billion.

Ruotolo Associates is a long-time member of The Giving Institute, which founded the Giving USA Foundation, publisher of the annual report on philanthropy. RA Chairman and CEO George C. Ruotolo, Jr., served as Chair of The Giving Institute and is also a former chair of the Giving USA Foundation.  Please do not hesitate to contact the firm at or 201-568-3898 if you would like more information about the analysis of 2012 philanthropy or how you can utilize this information to ensure the success of your fundraising program.