Giving USA, the annual report tracking charitable donations by U.S. citizens, released its 2010 numbers showing a 2.1% increase in donations last year, the first time in two years the number of charitable gifts has increased according to the Chronicle on Philanthropy.  The increase, the report notes, does little to help charities and foundations “catch up” from the past two years, as donations decreased a record 7% and 6.2% in 2008 and 2009 respectively.

The majority of charitable donations came from individual households, which is consistent with data in past years.  U.S. households donated around $211.8 billion in 2010 which was in part driven by disaster relief in Haiti and other places despite a still stagnant economy.  The charitable areas that saw the biggest increases in donations were American groups working overseas (13.5% increase over 2009), public-society benefit organizations like United Way (4.5%), and cultural/arts organizations (4.1%).

“When you think about the Great Recession, one might argue that this share should be higher,” says Patrick Rooney, executive director of the Indiana University’s Center on Philanthropy, which compiles Giving USA. “But when you think about where it has been historically, this is a remarkable testament to the core values of Americans, especially when you look at stuff like housing values.”