Charitable Support Switches Focus

By: Venton D. Blandin
By: Venton D. Blandin

June 27, 2005

Charitable giving in the United States was up 2.3 percent last year, but for some organizations, it's not all good news.

Outpouring support for the tsunami disaster six months ago, and the economic recession which began in early 2001 played a large role in funds contributed.

"We're still a little bit down from where we need to be," said Jim Fitzgerald, the Communications Director with the Thomas Jefferson Area Chapter of the United Way.

While support for charities by Americans is up to the tune of almost $250 billion, it seems a good portion of those billions is not going to those less fortunate.

"We're about nine percent off of the pace from where we were at this time last year," explained Fitzgerald.

Jim Fitzgerald, with the Thomas Jefferson Area's United Way, is talking about contributions for the humanitarian agencies. While sorting through donations at his office, he agrees some donations are up--because the economy is doing better, and Americans are feeling better about their lives, and want to share more with their community.

"Human services agencies, I think, are not necessarily seeing the brunt of that, so more ecological, and environmental charities are certainly seeing increases, but human services not necessarily," said Fitzgerald.

A study, tracking contributions to non-profit organizations, backs Fitzgerald's statement. The "Giving USA Foundation" says, though a new record was reached for philanthropic giving, donors gave less of their personal income than before. Donations to food banks, and homeless shelters dropped by one percent.

"So, the United Way is hardly in a boat of its own," said Fitzgerald.

While individual giving remains the most significant source of all giving, corporations play a part, too. Corporate donations increased six percent after falling 15 percent the previous year.

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