As we approach what is traditionally known as the Giving Season, charitable organizations are concerned about the continued economic stress on families who give. Charities have reported varying rates of declines in giving. The top 400 charities said that donations dropped by 11% in 2009.  But smaller charities indicated that they experienced only a 3.6% drop in donations last year.

Industry analysts speculate that the uneven nature of the drop may have been the result of consumers giving more money to local groups who required emergency donations of basic needs like food.  Consumers may be in more of a giving mood this year according to research carried about by the Fidelity ®Charitable Gift Fund.  Here’s a snapshot of consumer attitudes about giving in 2010:

  • Plan to maintain giving level: 55%
  • Plan to give more: 8%
  • Plan to give less: 36%

The group that plans to give less is of particular concern to fundraisers. Specific giving plans will impact how charitable organizations market to these consumers. About half of this group will cut back giving to all causes while the rest will prioritize giving and may cut out some charities altogether. In addition, consumers may also donate assets other than cash. Because of this, charities may begin marketing donation programs that accept cars, stocks or bonds. “Many donors don’t realize that they can contribute — and receive tax deductions for — assets beyond cash,” says Sarah C. Libbey, president of the Fidelity® Charitable Gift Fund.

As 2010 draws to a close, more charitable organizations will likely be marketing not only for cash donations but also for other goods and services that consumers and businesses are willing to contribute. In addition, they may be increasing their overall promotions to make up for the recent shortfalls in giving.

[Sources: Zongker, Brett. Charitable giving’s 11% drop is worst decline in 20 years. Philly.com. 18 Oct. 2010. Web. 27 Oct. 2010; Majority of Americans Plan to Give Same or More in Fourth Quarter, According to Fidelity® Charitable Gift Fund Survey. Fidelity.com. 20 Oct. 2010. Web. 27 Oct. 2010]