Individual Minnesotans and state foundations gave $5.2 billion to charities in 2010, up nearly $1 million from the previous year, according to the latest "Giving in Minnesota'' report, released last week by the Minnesota Council on Foundations.

One reason for the increase is that, for the first time, the annual report included donations by the Greater Twin Cities United Way. Without that $66 million infusion, giving would have fallen by 2 percent over 2009.

Another reason for an upturn in 2010 is that ordinary Minnesotans dug into their pockets, donating $3.8 billion -- up from $3.6 billion the previous year. This is in sharp contrast to 2009, when individual giving fell nearly 10 percent.

"I think we'll see giving go up as the economy returns,'' said Bill King, executive director of the Minnesota Council on Foundations. "I'm cautiously optimistic.''

About three-quarters of charitable giving comes from individuals. Their record-high year was 2007, when they donated $4.4 billion to churches, charities, schools and a variety of causes across the state.

Foundation and corporate funding remained almost flat in 2010, at $1.4 billion, an increase of less than 1 percent. Foundation rebounds typically lag individual giving, said King.

Education programs were the biggest winners, receiving 27 percent of the donations. Next came human services, with 23 percent, and community improvement groups, which took in 16 percent.

To read the report go to www.

Jean Hopfensperger • 612-673-4511