Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Giving USA: '08 Charitable Donations Down 5.7%

The Boston Globe, New York Times, and Washington Post all report that the Giving USA Foundation's annual report on charitable contributions finds that gifts and pledges in 2008 declined 5.7 percent in real dollars (i.e., inflation adjusted) from 2007 levels.  The Giving USA 2009 report states that the 2008 giving total was $307.65 billion, which was still the highest recorded level for any year other than 2007.  During the 53 years that the Giving USA Foundation has tracked giving, the only other year-to-year drop in donations was in 1987, when there was a major stock market crash.

Some of the hardest hit organizations were those that help meet basic needs such as food and shelter, which saw a 15.9 percent inflation-adjusted decline, health organizations (10 percent decline), arts, culture and humanities organizations (9.9 percent decline) and educational institutions (9 percent decline).  The only major types of charity that saw even slight giving increases on an inflation-adjusted basis were religious entities and public-society benefit organizations.  For those charities that saw a decline, it generally occurred in the fall of 2008, and leaders from various charities cited in the articles indicated that the decline appeared to extend into 2009 based on their giving figures to date.


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