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Giving USA Cincinnati Briefing 2021

In a year of unprecedented events and challenges, charitable giving reached a record $471.44 billion in 2020

While a strong year-end stock market & giving in response to COVID-19 & racial justice efforts drove growth in contributions, a tumultuous year created an uneven picture


For the 18th consecutive year The Yunker Group organized the Giving USA Cincinnati Briefing with former editor of the annual report, Melissa S. Brown, providing commentary and fielding questions from the webinar participants. Presenting sponsors of the program included BBB Center for Ethics, Clark Schaefer Hackett, Community Shares, Fifth Third Foundation, Graydon Law, Greater Cincinnati Foundation, Three Corners Capital and Media sponsor, Movers & Makers.


[June 15, 2021] — Giving USA 2021: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2020, released today, reports that individuals, bequests, foundations and corporations gave  an estimated $471.44 billion to U.S. charities in 2020.


Total charitable giving grew 5.1% measured in current dollars over the revised total of $448.66 billion contributed in 2019. Adjusted for inflation, total giving increased 3.8%. 


Giving USA, the longest-running and most comprehensive report on the sources and uses of charitable giving 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.


Highlights & 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 individuals achieved its highest total dollar amount to date, adjusted for inflation, but it comprised less than 70% of total giving for the third consecutive year.


↑ Giving by foundations increased 17.0%, to an estimated $88.55 billion (a growth rate of 15.6%, adjusted for inflation), reaching its highest-ever dollar amount. Giving by foundations, which has grown in nine of the last 10 years, represented 19% of total giving in 2020, its largest share on record. The estimate for giving by foundations was created by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy using data from Candid.


↑ Giving by bequest was an estimated $41.19 billion in 2020, and grew 10.3% from 2019 (an increase of 9.0%, adjusted for inflation). Giving by bequest often fluctuates substantially from year to year.


Giving by corporations is estimated to have declined by 6.1% in 2020 to $16.88 billion (a decline of 7.3% adjusted for inflation). This type of giving is highly responsive to changes in corporate pre-tax profits and GDP, both of which declined in 2020.


Highlights & 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. Adjusted for inflation, giving to religion was flat, reflecting a slight decline of 0.2% in 2020.


↑ Giving to education is estimated to have increased 9.0% to $71.34 billion. Adjusted for inflation, giving to education organizations increased 7.7%. Education giving includes contributions to K-12 schools, higher education and libraries. A strong end-of-year stock market drove growth in giving to education. That growth was further boosted by COVID-19 relief, racial justice giving and MacKenzie Scott’s gifts to HBCUs, tribal colleges, Hispanic-serving institutions and community colleges.


↑ Giving to human services increased by an estimated 9.7% in 2020, totaling $65.14 billion. Adjusted for inflation, giving to human services organizations increased by 8.4%.


↑ Giving to foundations is estimated to have increased by 2.0% to $58.17 billion. Adjusted for inflation, giving to foundations was flat at 0.8% growth.


Giving to health is estimated to have declined by 3.0% (a decline of 4.2%, adjusted for inflation) to $42.12 billion. In addition to large, nonprofit hospitals, health organizations include those that focus on addressing specific diseases. Many in-person walks, runs and other fundraising events that disease-specific health organizations host as major fundraisers saw a decline in participation and charitable revenue due to the pandemic.


↑ Giving to public-society benefit organizations increased an estimated 15.7% to $48.00 billion. Adjusted for inflation, giving to public-society benefit organizations grew 14.3%. This category includes a wide range of charitable organizations, including national donor-advised funds, United Ways and civil rights organizations.


Giving to arts, culture, and humanities is estimated to have declined 7.5% to $19.47 billion. Adjusted for inflation, giving to the arts, culture, and humanities subsector declined 8.6%.


↑ Giving to international affairs is estimated to be $25.89 billion in 2020, growing by 9.1% over 2019. Adjusted for inflation, giving to international affairs organizations increased 7.8%.


↑ Giving to environmental and animal organizations is estimated to have increased 11.6% to $16.14 billion. Adjusted for inflation, donations to the environment/animals subsector increased 10.3%.


How to Obtain Your Copy of Giving USA 2021


Giving USA 2021: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2020 is available for  download at www.givingusa.org.


Through Giving USA 2021, purchasers receive an annual subscription including:


  • The 2021 Comprehensive Presentation PowerPoint with researchers’ notes
  • Access to the archive of all Giving USA’s previous reports
  • Access to all of Giving USA’s previous Special Reports
  • Free digital copies of upcoming Giving USA Special Reports (including an upcoming new study on Donor-Advised Funds)
  • Complimentary copy of the subscription year Annual Update on State Laws
  • Exclusive The Giving Institute and Giving USA webinars for subscribers

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