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Charitable Giving Fell Last Year, But Didn’t Dive

The Giving USA Foundation’s annual report on charitable giving said that gifts were down in 2008, but not by much, 2%. Given the economic mess — the worst since the Depression — this sounds pretty good. And, overall, it is.

But the overall number of 2% down hides the differences within the numbers. For example, get-out-the-vote work was counted and was way up because of the historic election last year. Gifts to United Way and others who aggregate giving to mostly local, mostly poverty-focused work was up as well. Religious giving was way up as well.

But other categories got hammered. Arts, environment, health and education — is that all? — were all down. All is not rosy.

Remember, the research says don’t talk too much about the economy. People want to support winners, not those desperate for cash. The actionable intelligence from this report is this: Tell your stories. Find your best stories and work extra hard to tell them to your potential donors. It’s the stories of people and their real lives that get people writing checks and clicking on your donate button.

You can hear more about this story at NPR.

More on this story from Blackbaud, which analyzed the data. They have some nice graphs. They show online giving is way up.

Online Giving Surpasses $15 Billion in 2008
Blackbaud analyzed the Giving USA data, along with other important metrics, and estimates that more than $15.42 billion was given online to US charities in 2008. This is a 44% increase over 2007’s online giving estimates. Online giving accounted for just over 5% of total giving to charities in the US during 2008 and has been growing for many years now.

more from Blackbaud here.

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