One-third of givers don’t give annually

Though the majority of U.S. households give to charity, nearly a third don’t give annually, says a new report.

Six in 10 U.S. households contribute routinely to charity, according to the Center on Philanthropy Panel Study recently released by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.

The study has tracked charitable gifts reported by the same 8,000 families in biennial surveys conducted in 2000, 2002 and 2004.

All three years, 67 percent to 69 percent made donations to charity, but the same households were not always consistently represented in this group.

Nearly one-third of U.S. households give, the study found, but they do not give annually.

Differences in consistency of the donor’s giving pattern tend to result in significant differences in amounts given.

Those who gave regularly reported total charitable gifts averaging $2,659 in 2004, while those who didn’t give regularly averaged only $820.

“Nonprofits’ ability to encourage donors to keep giving is vital to raising needed funds,” said Eugene R. Tempel, executive director of the Center on Philanthropy, says in a statement.

“Finding that a sizeable portion of people who give in one year do not make any gifts at all the following year opens the door to greater understanding of the factors that influence people’s giving, and what causes those behaviors to change,” he says.

The report found that 68 percent of U.S. households donated $25 or more to charity in 2004, with an average total of $2,045.

The average household distributed money among two to three different types of nonprofits.

Nearly half of households surveyed gave to religious organizations, six in 10 gave to secular organizations, and nearly four in 10 gave to both, the report says.

The study also suggests income levels make a difference in giving patterns.

Only 2.2 percent of households earning $100,000 or more gave annually, compared to 4.2 percent of those earning less than $50,000.

Yet higher-income families were more likely to give.

Among those households, 93 percent reported giving at least $25 to charity, compared to only 56 percent of lower-income households.

COPPS is conducted in conjunction with the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, a recurring survey by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research.

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