In spite of the slow economy Americans are more generous than ever.
In a time when the American economy continues to suffer and we are being asked to support an administration that is asking for over $87 billion dollars to rebuild Iraq, Americans are voluntarily parting with more of their own money.
This report was issued recently by the American Association of Fund-raising Counsel who points out that Americans gave away a record $241 billion last year, a one percent increase from the previous year. Leading the way with the generous giving are traditional taxpayers such as individuals and corporations, while falling behind are the non-taxpaying, nonprofit foundations.
Americans are amazing. Look at how our communities are built and run. Most of the events I cover include activities that are run by and sponsored by volunteers. Hundreds of people spend endless hours giving back to the community. As the report points out, people are more apt to support causes in their own community where they see the results.
Here are the statistics on giving in this country.
Giving by individuals in 2002 is estimated to have increased 0.7 percent, to $183,73 billion. Giving by individuals represents 76.3 percent of all giving estimated for 2002.
Giving by corporations in 2002 is estimated to have grown by 10.56 percent to $12.19 billion, from a revised estimate of $11.03 billion for 2001. Giving by corporations is 5.1 percent of all estimated giving in 2002.
Giving through bequests in 2002 is estimated to have increased two percent to $18.1 billion. Gifts through bequests represent 7.5 percent of the 2002 total estimated giving.
Giving by foundations in 2002 is reported by the Foundation Center to show an estimated decrease of 1.2 percent, at $26.9 billion for grant making by independent, community and operating foundations. Grant making by foundations represents 11.2 percent of all estimate giving in 2002.
A report by Darrell McKigney, president of the Small Business Survival Committee summarizing these numbers asks this question and answer.
"So why is it that so many taxpaying Americans seem to be giving more to charity, but are increasingly opposed to tax increases? One reason might be that they seem to have different priorities for where their money should be spent."
In terms of dollars received, The Giving USA report ranks the 2002 charitable recipients as follows: religion get 35 percent; education gets 13 percent; unallocated, 12.6 percent; foundations, 9 percent; health, 7.8 percent; human services, 7.7 percent; arts and humanities, 5.1 percent; public and social benefits, 4.8 percent; environmental and animals, 2.7 percent and international affairs, 1.9 percent.
McKigney says that, "the push for tax cuts and holding the line on spending is result of Amercians' increasing awareness that government has grown too big and too expensive, and that each additional dollar of spending no longer brings a dollar's work of benefit. Instead, they are looking to direct their own money where they see it doing the most good, whether keeping it at home or giving it away."
He continues by adding "that's a trend that likely will continue and grow. It may not be welcome for many government bureaucrats and who live off the taxpayers, but it's a wise trend for the country."