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    Charitable Giving Reached Record in 2020

    Chris Pizzello/Invision, via Associated Press

    Charitable giving in the United States rose in 2020, fueled in part by a rising stock market and government stimulus checks, with organizations focused on civil rights and the environment benefiting the most, according to a report released Tuesday.

    Total charitable donations rose 5 percent to $471.4 billion, a record level, according to the annual Giving USA Foundation report. It helped, the report said, that the S&P 500 rose more than 16 percent by the end of the year and that personal income rose as the government rolled out stimulus spending, including checks sent directly to Americans. The backdrop of a national conversation over race, in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, also fueled fund-raising.

    “In some ways, 2020 is a story of uneven impact and uneven recovery,” said Amir Pasic, dean of Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, which released the report in partnership with the Giving USA Foundation. “Many wealthier households were more insulated from the effects of Covid-19 and the ensuing economic shock, and they may have had greater capacity to give charitably than households and communities that were disproportionately affected and struggled financially.”

    Foundations increased giving the most, a 17 percent jump to a record $88.6 billion. Giving by companies fell 6.1 percent to $16.9 billion, which the report attributed to a decline in corporate profits and the economic slump.

    Individuals increased giving by 2.2 percent, while bequests, planned giving after someone dies, rose by 10.3 percent.

    Organizations focused on civil rights and the environment saw the biggest increase in receipts compared with 2019. Giving to religion, education, human services, foundations, public-society benefit groups and international affairs also rose.

    Giving to groups focused on health care fell 3 percent, as participation in big fund-raisers like walks and runs fell because of the pandemic. Organizations involved in the arts saw a drop in fund-raising of about 7.5 percent, which is a common pattern during economic slumps.

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