Americans are being less Scrooge-like this year.
Giving during the 2010 holiday season to nonprofit organizations will be more than $48 billion across all giving channels -- including online, direct mail and donation at checkout -- as more than 174 million adult Americans plan to give money to charity before 2011, according to BusinessWire.com.
That’s despite the national unemployment rate hovering around 10 percent.
Online giving alone is estimated to account for more than $6 billion, an increase of more than 30 percent from this same period in 2009.
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“The results are encouraging as Americans seem to put aside the economic challenges to support the nonprofit sector and the good work charities do in our society,” Paulette Maehara, president and CEO of the Association of Fundraising Professionals told the Web site. “With the nonprofit sector representing more than 5 percent of (gross domestic product) and employing about 10 percent of the American workforce, the year-end giving season is critical to the success of the many organizations that have a significant impact on our culture and communities.”
The 2010 Holiday Giving Survey conducted by Edge Research reveals that nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of adults plan to make a charitable contribution this holiday season, and a majority of holiday donors (60 percent) plan to give $100 or more.
Doing their part
The Rev. John Adams, director of the Turner Ministry Center at the Pastoral Institute, and his wife, Beth, have increased their Christmas giving by 10-15 percent in recent years. They support Heifer International, a nonprofit that works to diminish world hunger in creative ways, such as buying chicks or rabbits.
“Instead of spending time and energy fretting over what to give people, we give this,” he said. “For my wife and our circle of friends, we all have more than we need.” He said they were initially inspired by their in-laws -- the parents of their son’s wife -- who started giving to a soup kitchen in Tennessee in their name.
“They could not do anything to make us happier,” he said.
Yet, Kathy Branscomb, a member of Columbus’ Friendship Baptist Church, where she’s the secretary, is giving the same to charity this year as last.
“It’s primarily to the church,” she said, “and people who come by asking for help. If I have it, I’ll give it to them.”
The same is true for the Rev. Jones Doughton and his family. No matter the fluctuations in the economy, Doughton, associate pastor at First Presbyterian Church, gives the same percentage year to year. He and his wife give 10 percent of their income.
“We are giving the same as last year, when things were down,” he said. His wife Mary Lee does contract work for a local non-profit and the couple tithe that income as well.
The second job provides more opportunities to give more to charities outside the church, he said, but their primary place is the church.
Dorothy Duggins of Columbus estimates she’s giving 10 to 15 percent more this year than last. Most of that comes in direct aid, such as food and clothing, to local charities.
“I’m doing more this year, but I’m being a little more selective,” she said. “I give less to the (charities) that have a lot of overhead. I’m very conscientious about that.”
Three local agencies are receiving her funds and goods: The Valley Rescue Mission, Goodwill Industries and The Salvation Army.
Aid to children is paramount to Duggins, as well as helping people with utilities.
Charities see increase
Open Door Community House on Second Avenue, a ministry of the United Methodist Church and a United Way agency, is up 4 percent on donations from last year.
“It’s not a lot,” said director the Rev. Kim Jenkins, “but we’re seeing a real uptake this week.”
Last year saw fewer donors than previous years but larger amounts; this year, the number of donations is up so far.
A similar story is playing out at Valley Interfaith Promise, which houses homeless families for a week at a time in area congregations. Director Victor Feliciano said donations are up slightly from last year, with about two weeks to go in 2010.
Christmas giving is up about 37 percent at Chattahoochee Valley Episcopal Ministry, which gives direct aid for things like utilities and rent.
That’s following the ministry’s “30 for 30” campaign in which CVEM sought $30,000 to celebrate its 30 years. It garnered $35,000, said CVEM missioner Vicky Partin.
The 37 percent increase means more local people will receive Christmas help this year. One event is a party where families receive gift cards.
“We also do other gifts and send gift cards and will help the Beallwood Reads children,” she said.
Not everything given before Christmas is about gifts under the tree.
“We usually end up doing one mortgage payment, and that brings people to tears,” Partin said. “Last year, we paid off a woman’s title pawn so she could get her car back.”
Seventy-four percent of adults plan to give this holiday season. With average total gifts of $281, the anticipated amount raised by nonprofit organizations will be more than $48 billion.
Giving is profoundly multichannel -- seven in 10 donors will give in multiple ways such as direct through the mail, online through Web sites, at events, or as they leave stores after holiday shopping. Donors who give online are particularly generous, donating a total of approximately $13.7 billion through all channels with more than $6 billion being given online. Not to be ignored are the non-traditional forms of giving -- tipping, third-party purchases and purchases from charity gift shops.
Holiday giving is emotional -- donors say that appeals that put a face to the donation (either human or animal), and remind donors to help those who are less fortunate at this time of year are most persuasive.
Holiday giving is particularly effective with harder-to-reach Generations X and Y, as large percentages of these groups intend to give and give generously -- 83 percent of Gen Y plan to give, while 79 percent of Gen X say they will give. Gen Xers plan to give an average of $348 this holiday season, more than any other generation.
Donors are projected to give through a variety of different channels this holiday season, with 72 percent giving in two or more ways, such as direct mail and online. A substantial 25 percent of high-dollar donors and 21 percent of holiday givers will make online donations, emphasizing the importance of nonprofits adopting an integrated marketing strategy. High-dollar donors are individuals who have given at least $1,000 to a single charity in the last 18 months.
“The results reinforce the need for nonprofit organizations and professional fundraisers to embrace technologies that create the best experience and engagement possible for donors be it through the Web, social and digital technologies or through traditional direct mail, events or face-to-face giving,” Maehara said.