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Report: Charitable giving almost back to pre-recession levels

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Charitable giving in the United States continues to recover from its recession-induced slump, reaching an estimated $335.2 billion last year, a new study concludes.

Donations from individuals, corporations and foundations were up 4.4 percent from 2012, or 3 percent after adjusting for inflation, according to Giving USA 2014: The Annual Report on Philanthropy.

Researchers at Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy gather data for the nearly 60-year-old annual study, published by the Chicago-based Giving USA Foundation. Results were released Tuesday.

After four straight years of gains, total giving is up 22 percent since 2009 (or 12 percent when adjusted for inflation), the study said. Charitable giving surpassed $344 billion at its height in 2007.

“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,” Associate Dean Patrick M. Rooney said in a prepared statement.

Individuals have been particularly generous, representing 73 percent of the total growth in giving since 2011. Personal gifts were up 4.2 percent in 2013, to an estimated $240.6 billion, the study found. Bequests were up 8.7 percent, to $27.7 billion.

Corporations increased their giving by more than 19 percent over the past five years, according to the study, but contributions declined almost 2 percent last year, to $17.9 billion.

Foundation giving was up an estimated 5.7 percent last year, to nearly $49 billion, the report said.

Most types of charities are benefiting from the philanthropic recovery.

“While this has been a particularly slow recovery, many charities are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” foundation Chairman L. Gregg Carlson said in the statement. “Donors are increasingly more comfortable giving to the causes they care about and at a level in keeping with the impact they would like to make.”

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