Recession-hit Americans are finding it hard to support their favorite charity. The Giving USA Foundation in its annual report said that donations fell by 3.6 percent last year, the largest drop in 26 years.
Overall, Americans gave $303.75 billion to various religious, education, health, cultural, environmental and other causes in 2009. It was the third consecutive year that contributions topped $300 billion.
The decline was not as great as expected. Foundation chairwoman Edith Falk said they had anticipated a greater drop due to high unemployment and home foreclosure rates.
Individual giving, which accounts for about 75 percent of the total dropped by 0.4 percent to $227.41 billion. Grants from foundations were down almost 9 percent, but decreases in those two categories were partially offset by a 5.5 percent increase in corporate donations.
Last year, donors increased contributions to human services, international affairs and environmental organizations. Religious, education and arts and cultural groups saw less support.
Decreasing donations can also put a strain on organizations already facing a greater demand for services as governments cut back on assistance.
But individual donations rose at the end of 2009, which may be due to the rising stock market. That also shows the possibility of a decrease when giving is tied to the stock market.
Nonetheless, Americans are generous, willing to help out their neighbors and others in need even in hard times.