By: Barry G. Allen- President & CEO
As challenging as it has been over the past few years, charitable giving continues to be a key component of the American fabric.
According to Giving USA 2011, total charitable giving in 2010 (latest available) was estimated to have been $291 billion, a slight increase from 2009 after having dropped from $308 billion in 2008. Individuals contributed 75% of the total given; foundations gave 13%; bequests represented 7%; and corporations gave 5%. For the past 56 years religious organizations have received the largest share (35%) of charitable gifts; education-related organizations were second (13%); foundations were third (11%); human services organizations were fourth (9%); and health organizations were fifth (8%). As a percentage of the gross domestic product of the US, charitable giving was 2%, which is the level at which it has been, with a few exceptions, since 1956.
At the end of 2010 there were 1,280,739 not for profit organizations registered with the IRS under IRC Section 501(c)(3), a 22% increase over the past five years and a 56% increase over the past decade. This does not include most churches, which are not required to register.
A recent issue of the Chronicle of Philanthropy reported the top 50 givers in the US last year. Their combined gifts were $10.4 billion; the largest was a bequest of $6 billion, the smallest was a current gift of $26 million and the median was a gift of $61.9 million. A total of 66% was given via 10 bequests; the remaining 34% was via current gifts. By far the largest direct beneficiary category was foundations (75%).
While I was fascinated, delighted and inspired by the generosity of these top 50 givers and all of the benefits that will be derived from their gifts, I was struck by the lack of direct giving for the benefit of religious organizations. Only two (20%) of the 50 gave for the direct benefit of a religious organization; those two totaled $100 million, less than 1% of the $10.4 billion total given.
May the Lord raise up those who have the capacity to make transformational gifts for the benefit of their churches and the church-related organizations of our larger Kentucky Baptist family. To the extent we can be of assistance in facilitating such gifts, please give us that privilege.
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The information in this article is provided as general information and is not intended as legal or tax advice. For advice and assistance in specific cases, you should seek the advice of an attorney or other professional adviser.