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Rise in giving signals economic rebound
Source: The Washington Post  ·  June 20, 2011  ·  Excerpt

An annual report released Monday shows that charitable giving in the United States grew nearly 4 percent last year after two years of steep declines, which some experts say is a sign the economy is slowly rebounding.

Individuals and corporations donated an estimated $290 billion last year, an increase of $10 billion from the previous year, according to the Giving USA Foundation, which has tracked charitable giving in the country since 1956.

Donations to education, health institutions, and arts and humanities organizations were up, while overall corporate donations rose nearly 11 percent, the study found. Amid other more glum economic news in recent days, such as slowing job growth, many found the upward trend encouraging.

“Giving’s back,” said Eric Kessler, managing director of Arabella Philanthropic Investment Advisors, which oversees about half a billion dollars in charitable giving. “Philanthropists are feeling more comfortable with the economy.”

Several of his clients who had scaled back their charitable work or put off new projects during the downturn are now giving again and expanding their efforts, Kessler said. For example, the Palmer Foundation, a private family organization that Kessler manages in the District, gave as usual to children’s and other social causes throughout the recession, he said. But with its portfolio rebounding, the Palmer family recently expanded its causes, donating $100,000 for Chesapeake Bay restoration.

“They feel more comfortable now that the recession is over and decided to try new things,” Kessler said.

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Our take
Clearly, it may be too early to celebrate, and this is a regional example, but growth in charitable giving after two years of decline at least indicates that a recovery may gradually be taking hold. While many organizations are dealing with cuts and austerity measures amid decreased revenue, planning for the "good times" is just as important.

Contact us now for help answering these and other questions:

  • What are the latest trends in charitable giving for the region or industry my organization serves?
  • How can I assess my organization's preparedness for a recovery in giving in terms of management, staff, communications, finances and other areas?


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