Charitable giving increased in 2012

Nonprofits that accept donations online and spent a considerable amount of time fundraising in the past year should know their efforts paid off. A recent report by the Giving USA Foundation and the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy revealed that charitable donations saw a slow, but steady increase during 2012. Monetary gifts for the arts, health, religion and other nonprofit sectors increased a meager, yet promising amount. Individual donations grew at a small rate while corporate giving almost tripled, according to The Chicago Tribune.

Small, but significant increases show economic growth
U.S. donations came in at $316.2 billion for the year, 3.5 percent more than 2011. While the amount of annual donations is still 8 percent away from the $344.5 billion it was at in 2007, the fact that the number is back up means the economy continues to take steps in the right direction. As experts have pointed out, growth is slow, but promising, considering how low donating levels fell during the recession. In the report, Greg Carlson, chair of the Giving USA Foundation, said Americans are "feeling better - but not great."

Individual donations totaled $228.9 billion in 2012. This is a 3.9 percent increase from 2011, which saw $220.3 billion. Meanwhile, corporate giving rose 12.2 percent to almost $18.2 billion in 2012. Charitable foundations increased their giving 4.4 percent to $45.7 billion in 2012, while bequeathed donations decreased 7 percent to $23.4 billion.

USA Today pointed out that changes in donation trends reflect society's evolving perspectives. Less money is going to religious organizations while humanities-based nonprofits saw a 7.8 percent increase. Hurricane Sandy fundraising is responsible for a large portion of last year's funds as well as many donations made at the beginning of 2013.

How to gain new supporters in the near future
Though charitable giving is not at pre-recession levels, it is progressing at a steady rate. This is great news for nonprofits and charities alike and should encourage organization leaders to implement new fundraising programs that reflect Americans' changing sentiments. Lingering factors such as unemployment and general economic concern will continue to affect the way people give to causes, but Americans are also looking to make smart and impactful investments. If leaders can communicate the importance of their cause and improve their online donation request forms, they may begin to see an increase in supporters over the coming months.

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