Americans set record for charity in 2006: report

Analysis

Powered by large individual gifts from wealthy individuals like Warren Buffett, charitable giving by Americans rose 4.2% to $295.02 billion in 2006, setting a record for the third-straight year, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday. 

In a reversal of recent trends, gifts to arts, cultural and humanities organizations rose 9.9% to $12.51 billion last year, the biggest percentage change since 2000, according to the report. The report quoted Eugene R. Tempel, executive director of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University as saying that the increase partly reflects the growing number of high-net-worth households, which typically give a bigger percentage of their income to the arts. Charitable giving last year made up about 2.2% of the nation's GDP, roughly consistent with the previous year.

Led by Buffett, who gave $1.9 billion in 2006, gifts from individuals continued to comprise the bulk of donations, rising 4.4% to $222.89 billion, or 75.6% of the total, said the report. However, giving to human services fell 9.2% to $29.56 billion, while giving to international affairs also fell 9.2% to $11.34 billion, reflecting the lack of major natural disasters that helped drive up giving to record levels in the two prior years. (people.com.cn)

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