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Charities hurt by '08 donation drop

Associated Press / June 10, 2009
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NEW YORK - Charitable giving by Americans fell by 2 percent in 2008 as the recession took root, only the second year-to-year decline in more than a half-century, according to an annual survey released today.

Particularly hard hit were social-service charities, which suffered a 12.7 percent drop in donations at a time when most of them were reporting increased demand for their services.

The last previous overall drop in giving was in 1987, the year of the record-shattering Black Monday stock market collapse.

In its report, the Giving USA Foundation, which has conducted the survey since 1956, said the 2008 decrease could have been worse, given that many Americans lost more than 2 percent of their wealth during the year. However, the report underscored the daunting circumstances facing America's nonprofits, many of which have been forced to lay off staff and cut programs because of declining revenue.

According to the report, total giving in 2008 was $307.65 billion, down from a record $314.07 billion in 2007. Two-thirds of public charities experienced decreases - among the few sectors to improve were religious and international affairs organizations.

The report predicted tough times throughout 2009 for the social-service sector. Of 228 organizations that were surveyed, 60 percent said they were cutting expenses.