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article imageAmericans donate $300 billion to charities in 2007

By Chris V. Thangham     Jun 23, 2008 in Environment
Despite economic woes in the country, U.S. citizens donated more than $300 billion to charities worldwide in 2007. About 75 per cent of donations came from individuals.
According to the Giving USA survey, charitable donations increased by 1 per cent compared to 2006, exceeding the $300 billion mark for the first time in U.S. history.
In 2007, most of the donations ($229 billion out of the total $306 billion) came from individuals compared to corporations.
But experts worry it may decline this year because of rising gas prices and housing and credit market woes. Last year was as bad as this year, so many find it surprising that Americans donated so much.
The amount of donations from individuals rose by 1 per cent, and from corporations it fell by 1 per cent. Donations from private foundations rose by 7 per cent and from personal bequests it rose by 4 per cent.
Del Martin, chairwoman of the Giving USA Foundation, which compiles the annual report, was happy about the modest growth in overall donations. However, she said charities they surveyed are concerned about this year's fundraising totals.
She told Washington Post:
"Those nonprofits that have the most tenuous relationships with donors are the ones that have the greater concerns."
Because of the poor economy in the United States, there is increased demand for services in charity organizations and they have to cope up with this increased demand with more donations. Some are able to manage well, while others face hardships.
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington saw an increased demand (28 per cent) for emergency assistance this year, but thanks to loyal donors, they were able to manage well.
Their president and chief executive Edward J. Orzechowski told Washington Post:
"When times are tough, people are willing to dig deeper...when the demand rises to the degree that it is, there's no way we can meet that demand, even with increased giving."
Julie L. Rogers, president of the District-based Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation warned any decrease in charitable donations this year will severely hurt non-profits.
In addition to increased donations in 2007, the combined assets of U.S. foundations also rose from $550 billion in 2006 to $614 billion in 2007, thanks to generous donations from private foundations.
Among the charitable donations received, religious congregations received the most donations (more than $102 billion), followed by nonprofit education organizations, which received $43 billion. But the amount of donations received by religious congregations is declining with each succeeding year. In the early 80s and 90s, religious groups used to receive half of all donations and now receive only a third of overall donations.
Also international aid agencies are receiving more donations; they were almost non-existent 20 years ago but now receive $13 billion, an increase of 13 per cent compared to the previous year.
Steve Gunderson, president and chief executive of the Council on Foundations told Washington Post:
"That number is indicative of what I say often: In a global economy, you have global philanthropy."
The $306 billion figure is a staggering amount of money from Americans and surely America deserves the title "Land of Charity" besides its "Land of Opportunity" tag.
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