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Charitable Gifts to Education Up 8% in 1995, Report Finds

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Charitable contributions to educational institutions increased 8 percent last year, slightly less than the overall growth in giving, according to an annual report on philanthropy.

After several sluggish years of 3 percent to 4 percent increases--growth that sometimes fell behind inflation--charitable contributions overall climbed nearly 11 percent in 1995.

Giving to all sectors totaled $143.85 billion last year, a $15 billion increase over the 1994 figure, according to "Giving U.S.A." Educational institutions received $17.94 billion last year--roughly a 5 percent increase when adjusted for inflation. Education came in second to religious institutions and groups, which received $63.45 billion, or 44 percent of all contributions.

The lion's share of education giving goes to higher education, and of the money that goes to K-12, most goes to private schools.

The report attributes the increase in contributions to the tremendous rise in the stock market and the fastest increase in real personal income since the 1990-91 recession.

It also cites the ongoing debates about tax policy in Congress, and says donors may have worried that the tax benefits they can now receive may be reduced in the future. A number of politicians have advanced the idea of a flat income tax rate that would entail ending most or all current deductions.

But F. Whitney Jones, the president of Whitney Jones Inc., a midsize fund-raising company in Winston Salem, N.C., said that most of the donors he works with do not follow activity on Capitol Hill that closely. He said donors tend to give more when they feel prosperous and confident about where the economy is headed.

Impulse To Give

The American Association of Fundraising Counsel's Trust for Philanthropy in New York City releases "Giving U.S.A." each year.

Behind religious groups and education, the report says health ranked third in the money it received last year, at $12.59 billion or 8.8 percent of all giving. Human services followed with $11.7 billion or 8.1 percent, and the arts with $9.96 billion or 6.9 percent.

"An important role played by the nonprofit community is to recognize and respond to emerging civic issues and to draw the attention of government and the for-profit sectors to them," Nancy Raybin, the chairwoman of the AAFRC Trust, said last week in releasing the report.

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