Giving to nonprofits in 2013 almost back to pre-recession levels

If American donations to charitable organizations in 2014 continue to climb at their current pace, then nonprofits are in for a good year. National Philanthropic Trust reports that charity organizations received a total of $335.17 billion in 2013, which is a 4.4 percent increase from the year before. It is also a trend that has been steady for the past four years, according to Charity Navigator.

"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 Patrick M. Rooney, Ph.D., associate dean for academic affairs and research at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, in an article published on the university's website.

in 2007, giving in the U.S. totaled $349.5 billion. But as the economy dipped and struggled to get back on its feet, donations did as well. Now it appears that tides are turning faster than expected for those organizations that rely on giving to thrive, according to Giving USA.

So who is giving the most? The answer is individuals.

"We are seeing clear gains in the total amount given by individuals in the last couple of years. In fact, the rise in contributions by individuals between 2011 and 2013 represents 73 percent of the growth in total giving during that period," said L. Gregg Carlson, president of Henderson, Nevada-based Carlson Fund Raising and chair of Giving USA Foundation, which published the report. 

In addition, it was a big year for online donating with a growth of 13 percent. Though fundraising emails were opened less than in previous years, the number of people visiting the organizations' websites or following their causes on social media rose dramatically. This was especially true for small nonprofits. It demonstrates that individuals want to give and new methods of reaching them are working. 

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