With the nation feeling somewhat better about its financial situation, in 2011 Americans gave more to charitable organizations than in any of the previous three years. - 

The Pulse is up today on news that 2011 may have been the year that charitable giving may have returned to pre-recession levels. The Wall Street Journal reports that organizations like Oxfam America, Feeding America and Save the Children saw notable growth in 2011 donations.

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, which has cashiers solicit donations as they scan your purchases, brought in more than $64 million -- $3 million more that it did in 2010. The Salvation Army's "Red Kettle" campaign alone rang in nearly $150 million -- 4 percent better than last holiday season.

The biggest growth was, of course, in online donating. Oxfam America's "Unwrapped" online gift catalog brought in a third more than it did in 2010, and Feeding America, which fights hunger in the U.S. through a nationwide network of food banks, saw 2011 donations grow nearly 20 percent with the help of a big online push.

The numbers are still being crunched, but when all receipts are tallied, charitable giving in 2011 could grow as much as 3.5 percent over 2010’s tally of $291 billion. That might just equal 2007's pre-recession high of $307 billion.