Despite the recession, or maybe because of it, Americans are still giving generously to their churches and other charitable organizations, a USA Today/Gallup Poll indicates.
Some 59 percent of respondents to the survey are donating money to religious organizations and seven of 10 are supporting other charities.
That is up from September, when 52 percent were giving to churches and 65 percent to other charitable groups.
"We're seeing a little more optimism today than six months ago," said fundraising consultant Peter Fissinger, president of Campbell & Co. and a board member of the Giving Institute, a group of consultants to nonprofits.
Despite job losses and depleted savings accounts, people are still giving, but donating to fewer organizations, Mr. Fissinger told the newspaper.
One trend noted in recent weeks is that donors give generously to certain charities that provide safety nets for the needy.
Another is the value of the Internet as a way to reach potential donors. And, not surprisingly, charities are contacting past donors who are familiar with their work.
"Loyal donors are being called upon to give until it hurts," said Ken Berger of Charity Navigator, which evaluates charities.
"The good news is that individual contributions ... are the most recession-resistant," he said. "They are not recession-proof. If there is a recession, people will give less, but they still give more than you would think."
Individual giving accounts for 15 percent of the $1.5 trillion that goes to charities annually. The rest comes from grants, government funding, dues and bequests.
It comes as no surprise that Americans are still supporting their chosen charities. Giving is all the more important in lean times. Most Americans recognize an obligation to help others as best they can.