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Word Count: 2,240
The idea of charity first emerged at the end of the 19th century when large corporations began helping finance voluntary agencies and religious groups Today the idea of philanthropy the spirit of active goodwill toward others as demonstrated in efforts to promote their welfare has become so accepted in America that few now escape the demands of giving In fact many important institutions are partly or wholly dependent on it Philanthropy has been organized and coordinated to eliminate much of the spontaneity of giving Wealth is disbursed by individuals but especially by fund-raising activities of non-profit organizations and foundations However in an economy based on freedom Americans make their own decisions about whether or not to give how much they give who they give to and what they give for The business of donation is a larger part of our economy than most realize and affects not only the groups on the receiving end but those who give as well Therefore attention must be paid to the means and modes of charity in the United States Who gives How much do they give To whom do they give And perhaps most importantly what kind of an impact does what they give actually have on their cause Americans gave an estimated 212 billion to charity in 2001 according to research findings in Giving USA The report is published by the AAFRC Trust for Philanthropy and is researched and written by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University It answers some widely raised questions about how charitable giving fared in a year of recession and crisis In spite of the recession charitable contributions in 2001 stayed above 20 percent of Gross Domestic Product GDP Americans commitment to philanthropy remained strong even in the face of downward economic pressures The 212 billion total is the highest level of giving ever reported Even adjusted for inflation the total is the second highest on record Once again giving sustained
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