Two big reports just out on U.S. charitable giving.

Giving USA Foundation estimates total giving at $260.28 billion, a 2.7% increase from the previous year. An estimated $7.4 billion was given to address natural disasters, accounting for about half of the increase in giving from 2004. Sectors receiving increased giving were human services, the environment, and international affairs (which includes disaster giving). Sectors facing declines were health and arts & culture. About 76% of all giving came from individuals.

And, as we first noted a few days ago, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports online contributions of $911.9 million to 167 groups reporting for their fiscal 2005 year. For the 162 groups reporting figures for both 2004 and 2005, this represents a whopping 148% year over year increase. These figures do not include the unprecedented $479 million raised online by the Red Cross after Katrina, which will be reported in that group's FY2006. Still, the Red Cross joined Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund (ranked #1) and the United Way of America as the Big Three of online fundraising for the year.

While the online numbers are indeed impressive, we have yet to see a study examining the extent to which online giving represents new or incremental donations, versus channel swapping as existing direct mail donors simply opt for the convenience of online giving. If any of you have measured this, we'd love to hear about it. Or…respond to The Pulse on the left-hand column.

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