Donations down, volunteering up

While charitable donations are taking a hit during the economic downturn, more people say they are willing to volunteer their time, a new survey says.

Almost half of respondents say the downturn means they are less likely to donate money, but almost a third plan to volunteer more, says the survey from Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund.

About four in 10 adults have volunteered within the past year and, among them, half volunteer once a month or more, with volunteerism increasing with education and income.

The act of volunteering appears to bring about larger donations, the survey says, with those who have donated their time within the last year contributing an average of 10 times the amount non-volunteers give.

And about a third of those volunteers plan to give more money to charity in 2010, compared to quarter of non-volunteers.

Almost three-quarters volunteer to support a cause they care about, while almost as many participate because they believe it’s the “right thing to do.”

More than half of volunteers focus on the mission and work of an organization when considering where to give their time, and about the same number look for a group that is serving needs in the local community.

Among those who do not volunteer, almost half say they don’t have enough time, and one in three say they can’t find a cause that matches their needs or interests.

Sarah C. Libbey, president of the Gift Fund, says the data show a “tremendous opportunity to tap the American spirit of volunteering and giving.”

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