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Many people believe that foundations and corporations are the backbone of giving in America. Their contributions are essential, but so is giving by individual Americans.

Charitable giving by American individuals, bequests, foundations and corporations to U.S. charities surged to an estimated $410.02 billion in 2017, according to Giving USA 2018: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2017.

Giving exceeded $400 billion in a single year for the first time, increasing 5.2 percent (3.0 percent adjusted for inflation) over the revised total of $389.64 contributed in 2016.

Giving USA, the longest-running and most comprehensive report of its kind in America, is published by Giving USA Foundation, a public service initiative of The Giving Institute. It is researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI.

Giving from all four sources and giving to all but one of the major types of recipient organizations grew in 2017, driven by economic conditions. While policy developments may have played some role in charitable giving in 2017, most of the effects of the tax policy changes adopted in late December 2017 likely will affect giving in 2018 and beyond, according to Giving USA.

Report highlights include:

• Giving by individuals totaled an estimated $286.65 billion, rising 5.2 percent in 2017 (an increase of 3 percent, adjusted for inflation).

• Giving by foundations increased 6 percent to an estimated $66.90 billion in 2017 (an increase of 3.8 percent, adjusted for inflation). Data on foundation giving are provided by the Foundation Center.

• Giving by bequest totaled an estimated $35.70 billion in 2017, increasing 2.3 percent from 2016 (a 0.2 percent increase, adjusted for inflation).

• Giving by corporations is estimated to have increased by 8 percent in 2017, totaling $20.77 billion (an increase of 5.7 percent, adjusted for inflation).

The Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons bring out the best in people for giving. More than half of all donations typically are made between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. But even the organizations that are known for Christmas relief remind everyone: Need knows no season.

Today we offer the annual “Community of Giving” special section. It features an overview of local philanthropic and service organizations and how they impact our community. The section introduces you to the volunteer efforts of many of your friends and neighbors and how they experience the joy of helping others -- and is a list of organizations deserving of your help now and year-round.

Included are:

• The Salvation Army — The mission of The Salvation Army is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in his name without discrimination.

• Orangeburg County Library — The library’s mission is to educate, inform and enrich the people of Orangeburg County.

• The Regional Medical Center Foundation — The foundation is the philanthropic umbrella for the Regional Medical Center and funds hospital operations, clinical services and community programs to improve the quality of life for area residents.

• CASA/Family Systems — The agency provides services to the victims of sexual assault and domestic violence as well as to the perpetrators of those crimes.

• Community Foundation for Orangeburg and Calhoun Counties — Its focus is on making a sustainable impact on the community. Donors can establish endowments to benefit non-profit organizations and provide scholarships to students graduating from high school.

• Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College Foundation — The OCtech Foundation supports student scholarships, capital improvements on campus, professional development for faculty and staff, and special projects undertaken by the college.

• Edisto Habitat for Humanity -- Habitat partners with individuals and businesses to make home ownership possible. Families who receive habitat homes put work into building their own homes and building for others.

We urge you to take time to review and read the “Community of Giving” special section today. It offers a glimpse of how much good will there is in our community year-round. And it may motivate you to give and/or get involved.

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