By Elena Garcia
Christian Post Reporter
Fri, Jul. 04 2008 09:56 AM EDT
Giving to religious organizations and congregations hit a record of $100 billion in 2007, according to a recent report by Giving USA Foundation.
The report estimated that religious groups took home $102.3 billion, the greatest share of charitable giving in 2007 among the nine types of charities mentioned in the study. Religious congregations received one-third of the $306.4 billion that went toward U.S. charities.
Half of individual giving, which accounts for the bulk of charitable giving, went to religious groups.
Compared to 2006 data, giving to religious groups increased an estimated 4.7 percent or 1.8 percent adjusted for inflation.
This is also the first year giving to U.S. charities topped $300 billion – a 1 percent increase on an inflation-adjusted basis over the $294.91 billion given in 2006.
The increase in 2007 can be owed to stock market performance in the first half of the year, overall growth in the economy measured by gross domestic product, and increases in corporate and personal income as reported at the end of the year, according to the report.
“Giving USA 2008 shows that a strong start to the economy in 2007 helped lift giving despite worries at year’s end from gasoline prices or the housing and mortgage crises,” said George C. Ruotolo Jr., chair of the Giving Institute.
Researched and written by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, the report examined charities related to Arts/Culture/Humanities, Education, Environment/Animals, Health, Human Services, Public-Society Benefit; International Affairs, Religion and Foundations.
Every subsector saw giving rise except for private foundations, which experienced a 11.9 percent decline in giving when adjusted for inflation.
Charity directors, however, are concerned over whether the such gains would be enough in the coming year.
Janet Valente Pape, executive director of Catholic Charities of Wichita in Kansas, told The Wichita Eagle that while the organization had a 10 percent increase in giving last year, it had more than a 30 percent increase in people seeking food assistance.
“I think the issue is going to continue to be [that] it’s not anywhere keeping pace with the demand that we’re all experiencing,” she said.
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