WASHINGTON -- Contributions to the largest charities fell in 2002 for the first time in a dozen years because of the troubled economy and uncertainty among donors, a survey indicated.
Donations to the 400 largest charities dropped 1.2 percent last year, to $46.9 billion from $47.5 billion in 2001, according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy's annual survey. During the previous five years, donations increased 12 percent on average each year.
"This economic downturn has just had so many twists and turns that donors aren't feeling very certain about the future, so they aren't as willing to give," editor Stacy Palmer said. "As donors are feeling more pinched, charities are feeling it, too."
She said the growing number of charities also contributes to the decline, as more organizations compete for donations. In response to the hard times, some charities are changing the way they raise money, adding staff, and sponsoring events to attract donors.
For the first time in a decade, the Salvation Army, with nearly $1.4 billion in contributions, slipped from the top spot, the survey said.
A surge in giving prompted by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, pushed the American Red Cross from ninth to number one last year among the top collectors. With $1.1 billion given to the Red Cross' Sept. 11 fund, the organization's donations totaled more than $1.7 billion.
The survey's annual statistics, which cover private donations and not government contributions, are adjusted for inflation.