More than 50 years ago, Giving USA began keeping records on how people give. This yearly report, written and researched by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, tells us much about how we give and provides a comparison today with the recession of the early 1970s.
According to the Giving USA report released this week, total charitable giving in the U.S. dropped in 2009 by 3.2 percent (adjusted for inflation) to an estimated $303.75 billion. This is the steepest decline in terms of dollars, but not in terms of percentage. Giving fell by 5.5 percent in 1974, for example, in the middle of a recession that lasted from 1973 to 1975.
The report suggests reasons for this difference, and those reasons are good news for us today.
– In the first decade of the 21st century, average household giving is more than in the early 1970s.
– More women are working and making their own decisions about giving, which is good for philanthropy since women tend to give more than men with similar incomes.
– Nonprofit organizations today are more organized about asking for money, and that increases opportunities for people to give.
Your Community Foundation continues to see great generosity from donors across every part of greater Birmingham. So, even if giving is down overall, we know that we all benefit from a special spirit here, as everyone tries to do as much as they can to make a difference for those less fortunate.