A study showed that US charitable giving rose for a fourth consecutive year in 2013, nearing the record pre-recession levels of 2007.
Donations from American individuals, corporations and foundations rose 4.4 percent to $335.17 billion, according to an annual survey, released Tuesday, by Giving USA Foundation and Indiana University's school of philanthropy.
The 59th annual survey offers clues on the overall health of the US economy, the stock market and the level of optimism people are feeling.
"In fact, 2013 marked the fourth straight year of gains in total giving. I think that is news to be celebrated after the gloomy years of the Great Recession."
The survey found that giving by individuals -- the largest segment -- increased 4.2 percent to $240.60 billion.
But one major category, corporate gifts, declined by 1.9 percent to $17.88 billion.
The survey found religious organizations remained the largest category of recipients, accounting for $105.5 billion, followed by education ($52 billion).
Other categories include human services, gifts to foundations, health organizations, public society benefit groups, arts, environmental and animal organizations.
The peak for charitable contributions came in 2007, when donations totaled an estimated $349.50 billion.
"The growth in giving over the past two years suggests that a return to the peak level of total giving we saw prior to the recession could occur sooner rather than later, if recent growth rates in giving continue," said Patrick Rooney, associate dean at the school of philanthropy.