Americans continue to give generously across the spectrum


Americans continue to give generously across the spectrum, including here in Jackson County.

That’s one takeaway from Giving USA 2022: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2021, released June 20, and from our own experience.

The report shows individuals, bequests, foundations and corporations gave an estimated $484.85 billion to U.S. charities in 2021.

Here at home, the Community Foundation of Jackson County recorded another strong year in terms of gifts from individuals and businesses, totaling more than $845,000, though short of the record $1.17 million in donor gifts to the foundation in 2020. Again, it was a blessed year with new donors joining the ranks of many steady regular donors.

Across the nation, total charitable giving in 2021 grew 4% over the revised total of $466.23 billion contributed in 2020. However, while giving increased in current dollars, it remained flat (actually down 0.7%) after adjusting for inflation, according to the report.

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.

Just as the record giving of 2020 was tied to the COVID-19 pandemic and other historic events, giving in 2021 appears to have ties to 2020, as well.

“In 2021, Americans continued giving more generously than before the pandemic,” said Laura MacDonald, chair of the Giving USA Foundation. “However, the growth in giving did not keep pace with inflation, causing challenges for many nonprofits.”

MacDonald said many donors returned to their favored causes with many of the sectors that struggled in 2020 making a recovery in 2021.

The stock market and GDP recovered to pre-pandemic levels early in 2021 and continued to grow throughout the year, leading to very large gifts from some of the nation’s wealthiest donors totaling nearly $15 billion in 2021. These types of megagifts (defined in Giving USA 2022 as gifts of $450 million or more) represent about 5% of all individual giving in 2021.

But the year also had its challenges, challenges that are continuing into this year — in terms of inflationary pressures and downward trends in stock markets.

“In 2021, the U.S. had a strong year economically and also experienced inflationary pressures not seen in several decades,” said Una Osili, associate dean for research and international programs at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. “While the stock market performed well in 2021, there were some economic factors that may have affected nonprofits’ operations, such as labor shortages, supply chain interruptions and ongoing high demand for services.”

Giving USA reports charitable giving grew from three of the four sources of giving in 2021. Giving grew or stayed flat to eight of the nine major types of charitable organizations. Despite uneven growth patterns, all four sources and seven of the nine recipient categories of giving experienced strong two-year growth, even when adjusting for inflation.

What grew? Giving by individuals, foundations and corporations all saw increases. Gifts by bequests declined, but that is a category that easily fluctuates year to year. What sectors saw their gifts increase? Religion, human services, foundations, public-society benefit organizations, the arts/culture/humanities and environmental/animal groups all saw increases in giving.

As noted earlier, giving to the Community Foundation of Jackson County was strong again in 2021 with gifts totaling more than $845,000.

That increase in local giving, we believe, is a result of our community stepping up in a time of need and a recognition of the work the foundation does, playing a vital role in partnering with other nonprofits performing important work across our community. We also, of course, value, understand and appreciate the giving of our donors.

Without the generosity of those individuals, organizations and businesses, our work could not take place.

Thank you for giving. Thank you for supporting our community. Thank you for supporting the Community Foundation of Jackson County.

Dan Davis is president chief executive officer of the Community Foundation of Jackson County. The foundation administers more than 200 funds with assets of more than $16 million. For information about how you can make a donation to any of the funds administered by the foundation or how you might start a new fund, call 812-523-4483 or send an email to [email protected].

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