Monday, June 23, 2008

The Chronicle of Philanthropy Reports on Annual Philanthropy Study

Below is an excerpt of the recent story written by Holly Hall for the Chronicle of Philanthropy, previewing the findings of the soon to be released annual study on giving trends in the United States. (click here for full story).  Reporter Holly Hall reports that:

The sluggish economy is showing its effects on charitable donations, which

rose just one percent after inflation, according to Giving USA, the annual tally of American philanthropy [prepared by Indiana University’s Center on Philanthropy] to be released this week.

Americans donated $306.4-billion in 2007, but fund raising is facing more challenges this year, especially as the housing and financial-services industries continue to crumble, fuel and food costs rise, and the stock market's volatility strains individuals and organizations across the country. Charities report that donors of all types have recently delayed or reduced gifts — or stopped giving altogether.

.  . .

At first glance, it might not be apparent from the Giving USA numbers how much tougher the fund-raising climate has become: In both 2006 and 2007, the report said, giving rose by 1 percent.

But the report, produced by Indiana University's Center on Philanthropy, notes that the 2006 figure was in part the result of a steep increase in 2005 to help victims of Hurricane Katrina and the Asian tsunamis. When those donations are excluded, giving in 2006 rose 3.2 percent after inflation.

The slower results come at a time when many charities, especially those that serve needy or middle-class people, say they face increased demands for aid because of the economy's woes and cuts in government benefits and other support.

Fund raising varied greatly according to a nonprofit group's mission. Organizations that focus on international affairs received the biggest percentage increase — nearly 13 percent — while giving to the environment grew by the next highest percentage — 7.7 percent. Giving to religious groups grew by the smallest amount, just under 2 percent.

Among other key findings from the Giving USA report:

Individuals donated an estimated $229-million, a drop of 0.1 percent from 2006. Individuals who died donated $23.2-billion through their wills, or 4 percent more than in 2006.

All told, donations by individuals, including contributions to family foundations, made up 88 percent of donations last year.

Corporate gifts declined by 0.9 percent, to $15.7-billion. Those contributions accounted for 5.1 percent of all donations.

Giving by foundations increased by 7.3 percent to $38.5-billion, accounting for 12.6 percent of all donations. The growth was fueled in part by a nearly 12-percent rise in the value of foundation assets last year, according to the Foundation Center. But new money is not flowing into foundations at those kinds of rates: Gifts to family and other foundations declined by 11.9 percent to $27.7-billion. That could be the effect of the stock market's ups and downs, researchers say, since many people donate stock to their foundations and are deterred from giving by market volatility.

Donations last year equaled 2.2 percent of the nation's gross domestic product, a figure that has changed very little in the past decade.

The full Giving USA Report will be available to the public in July 2008, and is available for pre-order on the Giving Institute's website.  The Giving USA Foundation was established by its Parent organization, Giving Institute: Leading Consultants to Nonprofits.  The annual report, Giving USA, known as the annual yearbook of American philanthropy, is researched and written for Giving USA Foundation by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. (click here to access the organization's website)


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