US charitable giving nears pre-recession peak at S$420 billion

A worker wraps a pallet of donated produce at the SF-Marin Food Bank on May 1, 2014 in San Francisco, California. -- PHOTO: AFP
A worker wraps a pallet of donated produce at the SF-Marin Food Bank on May 1, 2014 in San Francisco, California. -- PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US charitable giving rose for a fourth consecutive year in 2013, nearing the record pre-recession levels of 2007, a study showed on Tuesday.

Donations from American individuals, corporations and foundations rose 4.4 per cent to US$335.17 billion (S$420 billion), according to an annual survey by Giving USA Foundation and Indiana University's school of philanthropy.

The 59th annual survey offers clues on the overall health of the US economy, the stock market and the level of optimism people are feeling.

The latest report "proves yet again that the call for support is answered generously by our citizenry," said Mr Gregg Carlson, chair of the Giving USA Foundation.

"In fact, 2013 marked the fourth straight year of gains in total giving. I think that is news to be celebrated after the gloomy years of the Great Recession."

The survey found that giving by individuals - the largest segment - increased 4.2 per cent to US$240.60 billion.

But one major category, corporate gifts, declined by 1.9 per cent to US$17.88 billion.

The survey found religious organisations remained the largest category of recipients, accounting for US$105.5 billion, followed by education (US$52 billion).

Other categories include human services, gifts to foundations, health organisations, public society benefit groups, arts, environmental and animal organizations.

The peak for charitable contributions came in 2007, when donations totaled an estimated US$349.50 billion.

"The growth in giving over the past two years suggests that a return to the peak level of total giving we saw prior to the recession could occur sooner rather than later, if recent growth rates in giving continue," said Mr Patrick Rooney, associate dean at the school of philanthropy.