Atlas of Giving Attributes a Rise in Charitable Giving for Early 2012 to Stock Surge, Unseasonable Weather and Economic Growth

January 2012 giving came in at a 6.4% increase over January 2011, 1.5% better than December 2011, the best month of 2011.

DALLAS (February 21, 2012) – Atlas of Giving today announced results from its January 2012 report on charitable giving. The report outlines charitable giving in the United States from January 2012 and forecasts the upcoming year based on demographic and economic factors. According to the report released by Atlas of Giving, total giving to U.S. nonprofits rose 6.4% for January 2012, totaling 28.55 billion. This was a 1.5% increase over the best month in 2011, which was December. Giving to environmental and nature organizations experienced the largest increase with a growth of 12.3% over January 2011, while the religious sector grew at a modest 3.9% over January 2011.

“The results were better than forecasted, and build on the momentum of the 7.5% U.S. giving increase for 2011,” Rob Mitchell, Atlas of Giving CEO, said. “The continuing strong resurgence is being fueled by the quickening pace of the U.S. economic recovery, the strongest January stock market performance in 15 years, low inflation, unseasonably warm weather and continued improvement in the unemployment picture.” 

“When stock values are high, individuals can make gifts of stock and avoid capital gains tax; grant making foundation portfolios increase making more grant money available, and estate gift values are enhanced.  Low inflation increases giving because individual and corporate donors have more income available. The unseasonably warm weather across the U.S. in January translated into more gifts because less money was being spent by individuals and corporations on snow removal, heating bills, and transportation costs. High unemployment is directly related to charitable giving by individuals, especially small gift donors and participants in special fundraising events. People who are unemployed or fear becoming unemployed suspend their giving activity. After finding work, it takes as many as 24 months before giving activity resumes because people are catching up on delayed maintenance, replacement of household goods, and paying off accumulated debt.  Since individual contributors account for 75% of all giving, any positive movement in employment numbers translates favorably for donations,” Mitchell, explained.

The current forecast indicates that every month in 2012 will be a growth month, better than the same month last year. Giving in 2012 can be expected to grow 4.1% to $360.31 billion, $13.42 billion more than was given in 2011. The forecast is expected to change as events unfold during the year. Natural and man-made disasters, economic events, and many other things affect the velocity and trajectory of charitable giving results. The Atlas of Giving actively monitors the factors affecting giving and provides monthly updates of the forecast to account for these.

“Leading economic indicators were up again in January, a good sign that recovery and giving growth will continue,” Mitchell, said. “There is no doubt that political fundraising will divert some support from charities and churches, but the impact will not significantly affect charitable giving this year.”

Highlights from the Atlas of Giving’s January Report:

January Giving Results By Source

  • Individual giving increased 1.4% in January versus December to $22.49 billion.
  • Corporate giving was $1.51 billion in January, 1.3% higher than December.
  • Foundation giving totaled $3.92 billion, 2.1% higher than December.
  • Bequest giving was $2.04 billion in January, 1.5% higher than December.

January Giving Results By Sector

  • Environmental and nature organizations increased 12.3% over January of 2011 coming in at $0.64 billion.
  • Growth in giving to churches & religious organizations trailed other sectors, growing 3.9% over January 2011, totaling $10.79 billion. Giving to churches & religious organizations accounts for 36% of all US giving – the largest sector.

January 2012 Giving By State

  • Giving growth in January was particularly strong in four states: Pennsylvania up 2.7%, Florida up 2.7%, Illinois up 2.6%, and Texas up 2.0% over January, 2010.

2012 Giving Forecast

  • The forecast is bright for charities with an international mission, projected to be up 8.9%.
  • Giving to churches and religion is forecast to grow at less than half the rate of overall giving growth – up just 1.7%.
  • Political fundraising will divert some dollars from charitable giving but the impact will not be significant overall accounting for less than 1% of the charitable giving annual total.

On Wednesday, March 7th, 2012, at 12p.m. EST the Atlas of Giving will present the findings of the 2011 report, giving results and forecasted trends for the education sector in the upcoming year. Members of the media, nonprofit staff and board members, as well as financial analysts are welcome to participate. For more information, go to

Atlas of Giving methodology

The Atlas of Giving formulas were built upon the hypothesis that charitable giving is directly tied to specific economic and demographic factors. A team of 25 PhD level mathematicians, analysts and statisticians evaluated more than 70 possible variables and their interactions with charitable giving outcomes over four decades. They found the hypothesis to prove that charitable giving is directly tied to economic and demographic factors and the Atlas of Giving has identified those factors. The research team used the relevant identified factors to create an algorithm for aggregate giving that was compared with published annual giving data dating back to 1968. The algorithm correlates to 42 years of published giving history with a coefficient of correlation of 99.5%. 

The Atlas of Giving does not rely on surveys or outdated data on deductible contributions.  The input variables used in the Atlas formulas are publicly reported economic and demographic measurements that are updated and reported monthly or quarterly.  The Atlas is able to use its algorithms to measure total U.S. giving as it occurs monthly and provide an updated monthly forecast.  Unlike any other charitable giving index or estimate, the Atlas of Giving also monitors current events (political changes, disasters, tax policy changes, important economic factors like unemployment, the stock market, consumer confidence, etc.) and provides analysis of their impact on current and future giving.  

*Media Note*

A complimentary copy of the 12-month forecast and the results from January’s report is available to members of the media. Infographics, created to illustrate giving data and upcoming forecast are also available by request.  In addition, access to The Atlas of Giving Professional Edition monthly update is provided for credentialed media members at no charge. Monthly giving data by sector, source, and state since 1980 are also available upon request.

To schedule an interview with Rob Mitchell, Atlas of Giving CEO, contact Jennie Whitaker at 512-215-8977 or

About Atlas of Giving

The Atlas of Giving is an economic intelligence tool created to measure and reliably forecast charitable giving in the United States. The Atlas of Giving was originally engineered by Philanthromax, LLC in 2010. Data from the Atlas of Giving is gathered from a series of proprietary algorithms using multiple economic and demographic variables. The algorithms  match published giving data for the last 42 years with a 99.5% coefficient of correlation. The Atlas of Giving accounts for the entire giving economy and is the most precise and timely measurement of total charitable giving in the United States. For more information, visit