Charitable donations in the United States grew by about 3.5 percent last year, according to the 2012 Giving USA report from the Center for Philanthropy at Indiana University. The total number of donations to charity was tallied at $316.23 billion.
Even though the economy is experiencing slow growth and unemployment continues to inch along, the report found a slow but promising trend among giving from individuals, corporations and foundations.
A sharp decline of 17.6 percent was seen in 2008, but charitable giving has been recovering slowly over the past few years, the report shows.
Donations to humanities groups such as museums and children's art programs grew by 7.8 percent last year. Environmental groups and animal welfare groups saw an increase of 6.8 percent.
The natural disaster Hurricane Sandy resulted in $223 million in donations in the last two months of 2012 with another $100 million in donations in early 2013.
To get back to the 2007 peak of $344.48 billion in giving, the report expects will take an additional six or seven years.
Donations to religious organizations were nearly unchanged from last year, which the report attributed to a social trend. Because people no longer view religious organizations as the center of the community, donations to these groups have stayed steady or decreased.