Charitable giving rises – and closes in on 2007 record

In 2013, U.S. adults donated $1,016 per capita, and some research suggests people want to give more.

Jun 17, 2014 @ 11:45 am

By Alessandra Malito

Bills to pay and budgets to abide by didn't stop Americans from giving to charities last year.

According to the Giving USA annual report, total charitable giving increased by 4.4% to $335.17 billion in 2013, including a rise of 4.2% in giving from individuals. The single largest influence on this increase was the additional $9.69 billion in gifts made by individuals over 2012.

While the total number may not be as high as it was before the recession in 2007, when it reached $349.5 billion, contribution totals have increased by 12.3% since the recession ended in 2009.

People primarily donate to charity “because they want to give back to their communities; they want to help others who are in need,” said Kim Laughton, president of Schwab Charitable. “And at a certain level, it's also a tax advantage.”

In 2013, U.S. adults donated $1,016 per capita, while on average, U.S. household giving reached $2,974. In the last decade, total giving has increased by $34.6 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars. If it keeps up at this rate, the U.S. could see a return to its peak 2007 level of giving in one or two years.

Some research suggests that people want to give even more, and in more coordinated ways, with help from financial advisers. In fact, a study by the company found that clients wanted more conversations with their financial advisers about philanthropy, aid Jim Coutre, a partner at The Philanthropic Initiative. While some financial advisers focus more on the technical aspects of charitable giving, clients want to talk about the bigger picture of giving back financially.

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