The past year was a good one for the stock market, GDP, and corporate earnings, and this is reflected in the numbers reported in Giving USA 2022: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2021.

Total giving in 2021 grew to $484.85 billion, 4.0% over the revised total of $466.23 billion in 2020. This growth in current dollars was, however, flattened by inflation; the adjusted total comes in -0.7% lower.

When broken down by source of contribution, giving by individuals rose by 4.9% to $326.87 billion, and giving by foundations grew 3.4% to $90.88 billion. The biggest gain in percentage growth occurred in giving by corporations, which rose 23.8% to $21.08 billion.

In terms of where charitable dollars went, many sectors that struggled in 2020—such as healthcare and the arts—experienced a strong recovery in 2021. Healthcare was up 7.7% and the arts 27.5%. Meanwhile, many of 2020’s biggest gainers—such as human services and education—did not do as well. Of particular note is that the report states that giving to education fell by 2.9% in 2021. However, if looked at over a two-year period, all sectors grew over 5%, even taking inflation into account.

“The story of charitable giving in 2021 is closely tied to the events of 2020, a historic year that included a global pandemic, economic crisis and recovery, efforts to advance racial justice, and an unprecedented philanthropic response. In 2021, Americans continued giving more generously than before the pandemic. However, the growth in giving did not keep pace with inflation, causing challenges for many nonprofits,” said Laura MacDonald, CFRE, chair of Giving USA Foundation and Principal and Founder of Benefactor Group. “In 2021, many donors returned to their favored causes, with many of the sectors that struggled in 2020 making a recovery in 2021.”

This report comes out in a time of uncertainty when no one can say for sure what effect the current confluence of macro-economic factors will have on giving in 2022. But, for now, we can at least look back and say that coming into this year, philanthropy in the United States is in a strong position to weather the storm.


Order the full Giving USA 2022 report here or join the conversation on social media using #GivingUSA2022.

Download the Giving USA 2022 Infographic from Benefactor Group.