Kent County charitable giving tops $600 million, Grand Valley's Johnson Center reports

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Charitable giving in Kent County topped $600 million in 2010, according to a new report released by Grand Valley State University’s Johnson Center for Philanthropy. 

The Estimate of Charitable Giving in Kent County report indicates donations of all kinds in Kent County totaled $601,658,407, an increase of 7.7 percent over 2009, when Kent County donations totaled $558.7 million. The increase from 2009 to 2010 in Kent County is almost double the increase reported for the rest of the U.S. (4.5 percent), according to Giving USA.

“Estimating the amount of giving in a community is a particularly complicated task, but we believe this information is really useful to the people and leaders of Kent County as we tell our community’s story, and as we plan our future,” said Michael Moody, Frey Chair for Family Foundations and Philanthropy at the Johnson Center. “This is particularly true in a community like ours where philanthropy plays such a notable and visible role. The Johnson Center will be doing this estimate every year so we can track the trends in giving over time, and continue to improve our understanding of how good things get done through philanthropy in Kent County.”

The total includes donations from individuals, bequests, foundations and corporations. Giving by foundations grew the most between 2009 and 2010, at a rate of 14 percent, while bequest giving declined slightly.

More than half of all donations came from individual donors, making up $348.78 million of the total in 2010.

 

"It is encouraging that giving increased from 2009 to 2010, particularly because we suspect this is due to Kent County beginning to emerge from the worst of the recession during 2010," Moody said. "We know that people and institutions give more when the economy is good, and so if the economy continues to slowly improve, the level of giving will continue to grow as well."

Nationwide, charitable giving for 2010 was estimated at nearly $290 billion. On average, about 73 percent of those donations came from individuals. The individual donor rate in Kent County is lower (58 percent) than the national average, but it’s likely because Kent County has a higher level of foundation assets than other parts of the country, making up about 30 percent of giving in Kent County compared to about 14 percent nationwide.

The Johnson Center report estimates the total amount of charitable giving in Kent County using multiple sources of data from the most recent year for which adequate data is available. 

Currently celebrating its 20th anniversary, the Johnson Center is a university-based academic center serving nonprofits, foundations, and others that seek to transform their communities for the common good, and is adapting constantly to changing conditions. The center seeks to accomplish its mission through applied research, professional development, and the advancement of social technologies.