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Report: Americans more generous in giving to charity in 2011

Americans gave a total of nearly $347 billion to charity in 2011, a 7.5 percent increase over 2010, according to a report released Tuesday by Atlas of Giving.

The group, which measures and forecasts charitable giving in the United States, said giving expanded at a faster rate than overall economic growth for the year.

Total giving to U.S. nonprofits increased by $24.2 billion over the 2010 total of $322.69 billion.

Atlas of Giving forecasts that overall giving will grow at a slower pace of 3.9 percent in 2012.

“2011 giving growth was fueled by strong stock market performance through July, low interest rates, an improving economy, modest inflation, and aggressive solicitation” Rob Mitchell, Atlas of Giving CEO, said in a statement.  “However, the increase was not enjoyed by all nonprofits.  Organizations that rely on many small gifts from many small donors are still greatly impacted by the effects of continuing high unemployment.”

The giving includes donations to education, human needs/disaster relief groups, churches and other types of organizations.

Tax forms released by GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Tuesday showed he donated about $4 million to charity in 2011, about $2.6 million of which went to the Mormon Church.

Religion was the largest recipient sector overall. Giving to religious organizations dipped slightly, from 37 percent in 2010 to 36 percent in 2011.

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