Charitable giving increased last year as the economy improved, rising 3.8% to $290.89 billion, up from $280.3 billion in 2009. "There was a lot more optimism, all relative, in 2010," says an analyst. "People are still generous despite uncertainty, despite not having jobs, and despite confusion about what the future holds." But "if giving continues at this two or three percent (growth) level, it's going to take us a while to get back to where we were before."
So where were we before? In 2007, giving peaked at $310.57 billion. The Wall Street Journal looks at what went where in 2010: More than a third of donations were directed to religious groups, though there was no growth in that sector. Education and arts saw jumps of 5.2% and 5.7%, respectively, while giving to global groups in support of relief efforts soared 15.3%, even though it made up just 5% of giving overall. Some $1.43 billion was given in response to the earthquake in Haiti. (Read more philanthropy stories.)