Bloomberg News is reporting that while the number of households making charitable donations last year remained essentially unchanged over 2007 numbers, the average donations declined 35%. This drop reduced an average gift to $54,016 in 2009 (which is still not pocket change).
These and other numbers in the Bank of America/Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University study were derived from a survey of 801 “households with an income greater than $200,000 or a net worth of at least $1 million, excluding primary residences.”
It should be noted that households in this survey reside near the arbitrary $250,000/year income level often used in fractious debates over tax increases. It should be no surprise, then, that private philanthropy executive Claire Costello at Bank of America Merrill Lynch believes that “feelings of financial insecurity” contributed to the giving decline.
On the upside, however, Ms. Costello notes that these households are “still giving with the same kind of loyalty and longevity and deliberateness” as before.
Another useful tidbit coming out of the study is that donors who gave less or stopped giving usually did so because of over-solicitation and/or requests for inappropriate amounts. In other words, donors bailed because the nonprofits marketed them insensitively.
That’s news we can use. Also, remember that the decline is in cash gifts. That’s another reason to pursue the asset-based planned gifts that are usually several times larger, anyway.