Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Giving Declined In 2009

Last year, the news was pretty bleak. Giving to charity in America dropped 5.7% from 2007 to 2008. This was the biggest decline in giving in more than 50 years of tracking the data. And although it was disappointing, it wasn’t unexpected since giving is greatly influenced by the state of the overall economy. When times are good, giving goes up. And when times are bad, like during the current recession, giving constricts. Furthermore, the charitable sector lags behind the general economy so that even when times get better, it takes 6 months to a year to translate into an uptick in giving.

That is why today’s news released in the Giving USA 2010 report isn’t surprising --- giving in 2009 was down 3.6% from 2008. Here are some more details from the study:

General Data

  • Giving USA revised its figures for 2008. Now it actually reports an increase in giving for that year. Why? According to some new data, there were an extraordinarily high amount of charitable bequests in 2008. As a result, total giving in 2008 was $315.08 billion.
  • Charities in America received $303.75 billion in donations in 2009.
  • This 3.6% drop in giving represents the largest decline in current dollars since Giving USA began to track the data in 1956.
  • As in previous years, giving represents about 2% of GDP.
  • In 2009, there were 1.238 million 501 (c ) (3) organizations.

Types of Givers

  • Individuals continue to be the major source of donations representing about 75% of giving. In 2009, individuals gave $227.4 billion (-0.4%).
  • 13% of donations came from foundations in 2009 totaling $38.4 billion (-8.9%).
  • At $23.8 billion (-23.9% from 2008), bequests accounted for 8% of donations.
  • Although the recession might have made it harder for corporations to give cash, they apparently increased their in-kind donations. As a result, corporate gifts accounted for 4% of giving in 2009 and stood at $14.1 billion (up 5.5%).

Types of Charities Receiving Donations

  • As in all years of this study, religious organizations (including houses of worship) get the lion’s share of donations. In 2009, these groups received 1/3 of all donations totaling $100.9 billion (- 0.7%).
  • The next largest subsector is education which earned 13% of total donations or $40 billion (-3.6%).
  • Donations to grantmaking foundations amounted to $31 billion (-8%) or 10% of the total.
  • On a positive note, human services charities, which tend to receive a very small part of the giving pie, saw an increase in giving. Probably because these charities are helping those hurt by the recession and many donors felt compelled to support such efforts, human services charities saw donations increase by 2.3% to $27 billion (9% of total giving). Although this is good news, history shows that the bump in donations to such groups during a recession often isn’t enough to offset the increased demand for the programs and services provided by these charities.
  • Giving to public benefit charities represented 8% of the total in 2009, yet such giving declined 4.6% to $22.8 billion.
  • Health charities received 7% of all gifts representing an increase of 3.8% to $22.5 billion.
  • As predicted, arts groups continue to struggle. Specifically, giving to arts, culture and humanities organizations decreased 2.4% to $12.3 billion representing 4% of total giving.
  • Giving to international charities grew in 2009 (by 0.6% to $13.3 billion or 3% of the total) as did giving to animal and environment charities charities (by 2.3% to $6.15 billion or 2% of the total).

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