Saturday, January 17, 2009

From the National Philanthropic Trust -OR- It's not how much but how spent.

Below are the latest research and statistics on charitable giving.

National Philanthropic Trust

Charitable Giving

  • 89 percent of households give.
  • The average annual contribution for contributors is $1,620.
  • According to Giving USA, American giving reach a record high in 2006, with donations totaling $295-billion, an increase of 1 percent after inflation.
  • Giving to the arts and education saw donations rise more than 6 percent in 2006.
  • Thanks, in part, to the overwhelming philanthropic outpouring to natural disasters in 2005, giving to health and social services decreased by 5.4 and 12 percent respectively in 2006.
  • Historically, charitable giving rises about one-third as fast as the stock market and 2006 was right on target.
  • Charitable giving accounted for 2.1% of gross domestic product.
  • It is estimated that between $6.6 trillion to $27.4 trillion in charitable bequests will be made between 1998-2052.
  • It is estimated total charitable contributions will total between $21.2 to $55.4 trillion in between 1998-2052.
  • By the year 2055, some $41 trillion will change hands as Americans pass on their accumulated assets to the next generation.
  • 86 percent of wealthy donors said they are most motivated to give by the notion of "meeting critical needs" and 83 percent said "giving back to society" is motivational.
  • 80 percent of wealthy donors surveyed said they are most likely to make contributions to educational organizations, with religious (72%) and health organizations (70%) following in popularity.
  • Corporate foundations gave $4.2 billion in 2006 and 57% expect to give more in 2007.
  • Corporate giving, including grants from corporate foundations, increased substantially by 18.5 percent, to $13.8 billion.
  • Giving by the nation's 2,600 grant making corporate foundations grew an estimated 6 percent in 2006 to a record 4.2 billion.
  • 57 percent of corporate foundations expect to increase their giving in 2007.
  • Electronic gifts to the 187 organizations that provided figures for 2005 and 2006 grew by 37 percent, from $880.7 million to $1.2 billion, and eighty-five of those groups saw online gifts grow by more than 50 percent.
  • In 2006, 83 percent of total contributions came from donations from individuals, including bequests.
I realize that questioning charity is taboo. Some of the money is actually applied toward very real need, but it's far past time that we re-evaluate our approaches, set some priorities that aren't bottom line driven and STOP the business of fund-raising. The aggregate amounts are impressive until you realize the competitive nature of the business. When Ronald McDonald is competing with Jerry's Kids who are battling Danny Thomas' kids who are pitted against Save the Whales, Rainforests, Planet, Children, PUMAs, Clock Tower, Orphans... and represent THE # 4 growth INDUSTRY in the modern economy behind Energy, Health Care and Banking, something is very wrong.

There's something downright uncharitable about six (seven?) figure salaries paid to charity exectutives, functions that spend $300K to raise $100K, and non-profit headhunters. There's something huckster-ish about corporate giving that simply raises the price to offset the donation. If there's one area that should be immune to taking the bad with the good, HELPING OTHERS is my benchmark. We're hip to the grift when approached for spare change for bus fare, gas money, grandma's operation or a dollar to buy diapers when the asker is disheveled, on a street corner. Why, when there's a stamp and a letterhead and a national headquarters are we not as discerning?

It's just the cynic in me I suppose. And I certainly don't have an iron-clad solution. That doesn't alter the valid questioning of how we approach our approaches. I don't want to single out any ONE entity. Just taking a wider perspective? Is this getting us the most bang for our 300 billion bucks? OR is there a place for better oversight and a serious discussion of what should and what should not need to go begging?

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