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Holiday giving chilly in 2008

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More than half of North American charities said they were raising less during the 2008 holiday season than they did a year earlier, says a survey by the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

More than two in 10 charities said they were raising more money, and about the same number say their fundraising levels were steady.

In 2007, by contrast, nearly half of charities said they were raising more money than they had the previous year, with fewer than three in 10 saying they were raising less.

“The survey underscores the extraordinary difficulties that charities face in a fundraising environment that is more challenging than anything we’ve seen in recent history,” Paulette Maehara, president of the association, says in a statement. “Even those organizations that are raising about the same amount face significant hurdles because of the increased needs of people hit hard by the economic recession.”

Holidays are a crucial time for charities, with nearly half saying they get between 31 and 60 percent of their annual contributions between October and December.

Nearly two in 10 charities receive more than 60 percent of their annual gifts during these months.

However, over three in 10 fundraisers expressed optimism that their organizations would raise more money in 2008 than they did the previous year.

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