Americans will be feeling more generous this year, according to a projection from the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College. After falling off in 2009, charitable giving by individuals in the United States is expected to increase this year by 3 to 4.5 percent, the center estimates. The projection would put household giving – excluding gifts from foundations, corporations and estate bequests – to somewhere between $222 billion and $227 billion. Individual giving last year was off 4.9 percent, to $217.3 billion.
“2010 may just turn out to be the beginning of good news for fundraisers and charities,” said Paul G. Schervish, the center’s director. “But it may not be until 2011 that we see the amount of individual giving returning to its pre-recession 2007 purchasing power.”
The center based its projections on a mathematical model that uses data available as of April 15 from the U.S. Federal Reserve, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Association of Realtors, Standard & Poor’s, Dow Jones, and other sources. John J. Havens, the center’s senior research associate, said philanthropy in the first two quarters of 2010 appeared headed upward, but cautioned that growth “may not continue the rest of the year if the fiscal crisis in Europe brings a second recessionary dip to the United States.” The center’s model is still in the development and testing stage.
Eileen R. Heisman, president and chief executive of the National Philanthropic Trust, said contributions to the donor advised funds within her organization have kept pace this year. Historically, philanthropy usually lags economic recoveries. What may be different this year is national attention directed at people afflicted by the tough economy; the sense that tough times are lasting longer has helped drive more contributions, Heisman says.
“There’s so much media about people being laid off, and mortgage foreclosures, and people needing food stamps more than they ever did before, very middle-class people needing jobs. I think those people who still have them and are so grateful are stepping up to the plate, not disappearing. The folks that are able to give $50 or $100 are giving generously,” she says. “People are staying loyal to the causes that were always important to them.”
Participation in charity comes in various ways, from writing checks to organizing foundations and fund-raising for causes close to the heart. In Registered Rep.’s 30th annual Outstanding Advisor Awards last month, the financial advisors who were recognized ran the gamut from a woman who raised money for her alma mater to a man whose personal experience with cancer helped drive his efforts to finance treatment trials at a national research center.