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Donors split on 2009 giving

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Charitable giving for this year is uncertain, with only about half of donors confident they can maintain their giving, a new study says.

Slightly more than half of individual donors say they plan to give the same amount or more in 2009, but almost half either plan to give less or are unsure about what they can give, says a survey from Cygnus Applied Research.

Almost one in two donors say they will give less this year than last, while almost one in three have yet to decide how much they will give.

Among those who will give less, more than half cite the economy as the main reason.

Among those who will give more this year, half say they will cut back in other areas to keep donations up, and six in 10 say increased need among nonprofits is another driving factor in their giving.

For those who plan to give less this year, three in four will give less money overall, while over one in 10 will give to fewer charities.

Reducing donations overall could harm nonprofits, given that the cost of soliciting smaller gifts is the same as soliciting larger ones, Penelope Burke, president of Cygnus, says in a statement.

For donors who have to give less this year, Burke suggests they reduce the number of causes they support rather than give less to each cause.

A survey from Harris Interactive echoes the Cygnus study, saying about one in three people are giving smaller amounts, while about one in four are giving to fewer organizations and six percent have stopped donating altogether.

However, about one in 10 respondents say they are volunteering more because of the deteriorating economy.

Among donors and volunteers, about six in 10 prefer giving for specific purposes, while only a quarter would rather give unrestricted gifts.

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