U.S./world – Charity chill – Survey maps slump

The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks unleashed a tide of charity, but that giving combined with the economic downturn could limit future donations, a new survey says.

Nearly three of every four Americans who gave to charity in response to the attacks expect to give as much as or more than usual, says the survey, which was commissioned by Independent Sector, a nonprofit trade group, and conducted by Wirthlin Worldwide.

But more than one in four Americans don’t expect to give as much as usual or won’t give any more at all, the survey says.

And while half say the slumping economy won’t affect their giving, half say they will reduce or stop their giving.

“The convergence of three factors – the terrorist attacks, a shaky economy and rising needs – has made this a precarious time for charities as they work to serve their communities,” says Sara Melendez, Independent Sector’s president and CEO.

Seven in 10 Americans turned to charity in response to the attacks, with 58 percent giving money, 13 percent giving blood and 11 percent giving time, the survey says.

If the economy keeps sliding, the survey says, one in 10 Americans will halt their giving, and another one in 10 will greatly reduce it.

But the survey suggests charities have a chance to coax non-traditional donors into ongoing giving, Independent Sector says.

Twenty-nine percent of donors ages 18 to 24 who gave in response to the Sept. 11 attacks, for example, say they plan to give more, compared to only 14 percent of all age groups.

And 16 percent of donors who gave in response to the attacks had not given in the previous year.

Nearly 1 in four donors responding to the attacks gave through the mail, while nearly 1 in 10 gave by phone, and 1 in 20 gave over the Internet.

Eight in 10 of those making online gifts turned to the Internet for the first time to give to charity.  

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