Charitable Giving Fell Last Year, But Didn't Dive While some expected charity donations for 2008 to tank along with the economy, that simply didn't happen to every group. In fact, donations to religious groups went up more than 5 percent last year. So did giving to voter registration drives.
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Charitable Giving Fell Last Year, But Didn't Dive

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Charitable Giving Fell Last Year, But Didn't Dive

Charitable Giving Fell Last Year, But Didn't Dive

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RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

We're going to get some updates now on parts of the economy hurt by the recession, beginning with charities. Giving did go down this past year, but according to a new report out today, not as much as expected. NPR's Pam Fessler is here with more.

PAM FESSLER: Charitable giving in the United States dropped two percent last year over the year before. Even so, people gave more than $307 billion, which leaves one to ask, is this good news or bad news?

NANCY RAYBIN: I think $300 billion-plus two years in a row is great news.

FESSLER: Nancy Raybin is chair of the Giving Institute, whose Giving USA Foundation reports annually on charitable trends. She says after the stock market tumbled last September, people expected the worst.

RAYBIN: People expected that as the economy tanked, charitable giving would tank along with it. And that didn't happen. It may have happened to some organizations, but it didn't happen to every organization across the country.

FESSLER: Glen O'Gilvie is CEO of the Center for Nonprofit Advancement, which represents over 800 nonprofits around Washington, D.C.

GLEN O: We heard from our members that they saw two things. One was an increase in need. All of our homeless shelters and food programs saw longer lines and waiting lists. They also saw a direct decline in giving.

FESSLER: His organization is providing something called Back Office in a Box, where members can get a group rate on accounting and other financial services. He's also advised nonprofits to find more ways to collaborate.

GILVIE: To share some costs where they could - two youth organizations sharing the cost of one trainer.

FESSLER: Mary Funke is executive director of N Street Village, which helps homeless and low-income women in the capital region. She says she's talking to another nonprofit about providing medical care to her clients in exchange for office space at her facility.

MARY FUNKE: We are having conversations with a few organizations and saying where can we align to provide better services or be more efficient in delivering services?

FESSLER: Funke says she's also using more social networking tools such as Facebook to communicate with donors and to help raise funds. The good news is she's starting to see a turnaround.

FUNKE: So, for example, our gala, which was held in March, we surpassed the gala goal by $85,000. We grossed somewhere around $680,000.

FESSLER: Pam Fessler, NPR News, Washington.

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