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Household giving falls, regains some ground

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Individual charitable giving fell $11.2 billion to $217.3 billion in 2009, a decline of 4.9 percent in the wake of a 6 percent drop in 2008, a new report says.

And in 2010, based on an analysis of the first two quarters, household giving should grow 3 percent to 4.5 percent to roughly $222 billion to $227 billion, say researchers at the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College.

“2010 may just turn out to be the beginning of good news for fundraisers and charities,” Paul Schervish, director of the Center, says in a statement. “But it may not be until 2011 that we see the amount of individual giving returning to its pre-recession 2007 purchasing power.”

The findings in the report, published by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, are based on estimate produced quarterly by the Center’s “Individual Giving Model” that is designed to estimate future and real-time charitable giving by households on a quarterly basis.

The model estimates how the most recent changes in financial resources affect the aggregate level of household giving.

The findings are based on data from the Federal Reserve, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Association of Realtors, Stand and Poor’s, Dow-Jones and other resources of publicly-available data.

Paulette V. Maehara, president and CEO of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, says in a statement she is optimistic about the growth in household giving projected for 2010.

The research, she says, “certainly corresponds with what fundraisers experienced last year and what we’re seeing so far in 2010.”

John J. Havens, senior research associate at the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy, says that, with the decline in real purchasing power of 6 percent in 2008 and another 5 percent in 2009, “it will be some time before    we can reverse these declines.”

And while household giving should grow the first two quarters in 2010, he says, growth may not continue the rest of the year “if the fiscal crisis in Europe brings a second recessionary dip to the United States.”

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