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Sunday, 25 November 2012 23:00

Charitable giving grows with economic gains

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WEST MICHIGAN — As the local economy improves, the level of corporate philanthropy increases.

That’s the word from a new report by the Grand Valley State University Johnson Center for Philanthropy on charitable giving in Kent County.

Local charitable contributions got a bump from foundations, individuals and corporations in 2010, the most recent year for which data are available, the report stated.

Total charitable giving in Kent County approached $602 million, an increase of $42.9 million from 2009, when total giving was nearly $559 million. The annual increase of 7.7 percent outstripped the national gains of 4.5 percent reported by Giving USA.

The increase was largely fueled by foundational giving, which increased 14 percent to $183 million, as well as corporate giving’s growth of more than 5 percent to $33.5 million, according to the Johnson Center report. Individual giving increased as well, while bequests remained flat.

Teresa Behrens, director of special projects at the Johnson Center, said that these increases were likely attributable to the gradually improving economy, which allowed both individuals and corporations to give more.

“That’s probably the best explanation for it,” Behrens said. “As the economy recovers, we would expect giving to go up. Historically, that’s what happens.”

In Kent County, both foundational and corporate giving make up a larger-than-average portion of overall giving — 30 percent and 6 percent, respectively. That compares to the national charitable giving as a whole, where foundational giving is estimated at 14 percent and corporate giving is 5 percent. Nationally, individual giving is about 73 percent of all giving, but individual donors comprise only about 58 percent of the local market.

It’s not that individuals in greater Grand Rapids are less generous. The Johnson Center attributes the difference to a comparatively higher level of foundation assets in Kent County, nearly double the amount per capita than in the nation as a whole.

The report also warns that the figures likely underestimate the actual total charitable giving, which is difficult to track because of the many ways in which people give and the dearth of precise data.

Read 1453 times Last modified on Sunday, 25 November 2012 16:37

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