The past year was marked by a global pandemic, protests over racial justice, job losses, and a divisive general election. Giving USA 2021 reports that, despite all of this, Americans gave a record $471.44 billion to charity. This total is up $21.8 billion from $449.64 billion in 2019.

The increase was powered by giving from foundations and individuals. Individual giving increased by $14.44 billion, totaling $324.10, and giving from foundations increased by $12.86 billion, totaling $88.55 billion. This offset a decline in giving from bequests ($1.3 billion) and giving from corporations ($4.21 billion).

Giving related to COVID-19 and racial justice causes span across all nine categories of giving tracked by Giving USA. Not surprisingly, giving to human services groups with a focus on basic needs such as food banks, homeless shelters, etc. received increased support in 2020, growing 8.4% to $65 billion.

Giving to education also saw strong growth, rising 9% to $71.34 billion. The biggest percentage of growth ocurred in giving to public-society benefit organizations—a broad category that includes the United Way, community development organizations, as well as donor-advised funds—which rose 15.7% to $48 billion.

Some sectors struggled more than others. Giving to health saw a decline of 4.2% to $42.12 billion. Giving to arts, culture, and humanities saw the biggest percentage decline, falling 7.5% to $19.47 billion. It was a challenging year for any organization that relied heavily on in-person events, charity walks, etc. to raise funds.

Key findings and numbers from this year’s report were published June 15, 2021, with the full written report to follow within the next 4–6 weeks.


Order the full Giving USA 2021 report here or join the conversation on social media using #GivingUSA2021.

Download the Giving USA 2021 Infographic from Benefactor.