The “great recession” has crimped Americans’ giving to charitable causes. 2008 giving was already down from 2007, and will likely take a bigger hit this year. How long will this bad news continue?
If history is any guide, easy times for charities won’t return soon. Looking at individual giving after the Depression and the deep 1973-75 recession, a study by GivingUSA concluded that inflation-adjusted giving by households and individuals won’t reach their 2007 level until at least 2012, even if the recession ended in June.
If people are out of work, they are less likely to give as much.
“A lot depends on how the stock market does,” says Thomas Pollak, program director of the National Center for Charitable Statistics at the Urban Institute in Washington. The wealthy, many with stock portfolios, are a big source of charity.
Further, many nonprofits rely heavily on government funding – about 35 percent, on average, says Megan Haddock, international project coordinator at the Center for Civil Society Studies at Johns Hopkins University. So any cuts in government support for nonprofit groups, as a way of trimming federal spending, certainly won’t brighten this picture any.