Giving USA reports sharpest drop in charitable giving in 53 years

Giving USA reports sharpest drop in charitable giving in 53 years

News (International)

US charitable giving fell by an estimated 5.7% in 2008, adjusted for inflation, according to the Giving USA Foundation. This is the largest drop recorded since the group began tracking America’s charitable donations in 1954.

But donations topped "a remarkable" $300 bn for the second year in a row, totalling $307.65 bn (£184 bn) in current dollars in 2008, equivalent to 2.2% of GDP (2.3% in 2007), the annual report Giving USA showed.

This equates to a 2% drop in current dollars over 2007 and is the first decline in giving in current dollars since 1987 and the second since Giving USA began publishing annual reports. Revised estimated giving for 2007 was a record $314.07 bn (£189.68 bn).

“It could have been a lot worse. With the United States mired in a recession throughout 2008, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that charitable giving would be down,” said Del Martin, CFRE, chair of Giving USA Foundation. “However, what we find remarkable is that individuals, corporations and foundations still provided more than $307 billion to causes they support, despite the economic conditions,” she said.

Two thirds of charities receiving donations saw decreases in 2008. The exceptions were religion, public-society benefit and international affairs charities, the report said.

Martin said, “This drop in giving meant that non-profits have had to do more with less over the past year.”

Individual giving, which is always the largest component of charitable contributions, was an estimated $229.28 bn(£138.48 bn), or 75% of the total, in 2008. This is a decrease of 2.7% compared with 2007 estimates (-6.3 % adjusted for inflation).

Foundation grant-making, according to data from the Foundation Center, was $41.21 bn (£24.89 bn), an estimated 3% increase in current dollars but a drop of 0.8% adjusted for inflation. It represents 13% of total giving for 2008

Charitable bequests were estimated at $22.66 bn (£13.69 bn) in 2008, a decrease of 2.8% (-6.4 % adjusted for inflation). They make up 7% of total giving.
Corporate giving, which is closely tied to corporate profits, is projected to have decreased 4.5 % (-8 % in inflation-adjusted dollars), to $14.5 bn (£8.76 bn). It is estimated to equal 5% of all charitable giving.

In terms of recipient type, religious congregations and other religious organisations received an estimated $106.89 bn (£64.59 bn), which is 35 % of the total. This is the second year that giving to religion has exceeded $100 bn. Giving to religion increased an estimated 5.5% (1.6% adjusted for inflation).

This year’s report also included results from a national survey of human services charities. Compared with 2007, 54% saw an increase in need for their services in 2008, against an estimated 15.9% decline in donations in real terms in 2008.

For details of how to order Giving USA 2009, please visit the Giving USA Foundation website.

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