Home > Reflections > People gave less in 2008… is this a new trend?

Yesterday I came across this NPR article about the decrease in giving amounts in USA. The chart below sums up the main trend information showing the change in contributions from donors and the change in funds received by charitable groups from 2007 to 2008:

Source: Giving USA Foundation; Credit: Alyson Hurt / NPR

Source: Giving USA Foundation; Credit: Alyson Hurt / NPR

Couple of interesting observations in this chart. Firstly, the foundations are the only ones that gave more in 2008 despite seeing the biggest drop in contributions. I am not sure that those two groups are the same but, if they are, we should expect foundations to give less in 2009 and probably 2010. For example, Gates Foundation’s endowment dropped by about 6.6% in 2008. I expect that to impact their giving activities in at least 2009. Secondly, I find it interesting that religious, public benefits, and international affairs groups saw an increase in funding. Given the economic hardship and political instabilities in 2008, I think this trend makes a lot of sense.

I decided to dig deeper into the original Giving USA report which was the source of the NPR article. Here are some other interesting tidbits I found in the report:

  1. Giving made up 2.2% of the GDP in 2008, down from 2.3% in 2007.
  2. Individual giving makes up 75% of total giving at an estimated $229.28 billion. Comparatively, corporate giving was only an estimated $14.5 billion.

I am interested to hear your thoughts on how you think these numbers will change in 2009? Do you think religious organizations will continue to see an increase in contributions? Please share your thoughts.

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