What started as a monetary storm of historic proportions has begun to settle to reveal a new status quo. Our economy has seen spurts of growth and fast fits of decline over the last year. Hopes and disappoints seem to be the constant change as we remain caught in the waves of these harsh financial conditions. From our family to our neighbors to our co-workers and those who have lost their jobs, the economic downturn continues to have a lasting influence on all sectors, namely charities and the nonprofit sector.

Amidst these challenges, we turn to the Giving USA 2009 for some insights into how the economy is affecting charitable giving and where donors are cutting down on their charitable contributions. The report reveals essential information based on the patterns of giving in the US, and is instrumental for nonprofits looking to better understand their donor base.

What proves key from the report is this: Individual giving remains the cornerstone of philanthropy in the US. "An important thing to take away," The Hodge Group Managing Partner Russ Hodge says, "is that individuals remain the economic engine of philanthropy in this country. Individual giving is the center pillar of all philanthropy, and continues to be so. The report is consistent with what The Hodge Group sees as a philanthropic consulting firm in Central Ohio: Individuals focus their giving on core organizations that touch the human condition."

Other key facts and figures from 2009 include:


Total estimated charitable giving in the U.S. dropped 3.6% in 2009.


Individual giving fell 0.4% in 2009. Individual giving is 75% of all giving or $227.41 billion.


Corporate giving increased 5.5%. This unexpected bounce takes corporate giving to within 1% of its pre-recession level.


Giving to religion fell 0.7% in 2009.


Giving to education declined 3.6% in 2009.


Giving to foundations dropped 8%.


Giving to arts, culture and humanities fell 2.4%.

While declines in giving have been steady over the last two years, the data also demonstrates reasons for continued hope and possibility. International causes saw an increase in giving in 2009, a fact that "speaks well as Americans look beyond our shores" to the global economy and their influence on the economic health of the world. The report shows an overall decrease, just over 3.5%, in giving which is slight compared to other many other sectors of the economy where more dramatic cuts have taken place. "I was struck by the generosity of Americans during a period of economic upheaval." Mr. Hodge says. "With just over a 3.5 decrease compared to many other sectors of the economy, the nonprofit sector has done better than could be expected."

As the report indicates, individuals continue to demonstrate a strong and steady generosity to their local charities and nonprofits. As we continue to chart the waters of this new status quo, understanding what matters to our donor base at the local and global level matters more than ever.

Download Giving USA 2010 Full Summary Presentation | Visit to purchase the Full Report

Join us at our upcoming event:

June 25 - 28 - ALA (American Library Association) Annual Conference, Washington DC.

Join Managing Partner Russ Hodge, CFRE and Senior Counsel Kay K. Runge MLS for a roundtable discussion on:

Philanthropy and its relationship to government financing - Why and how levies and other tax based funding are linked. This session will be a unique view based on experiences in Arkansas, Iowa to Ohio and Michigan how you can effectively manage fundraising and government financing initiatives. Historically, they have been treated separately but this session will cover ten keys to using each one of these to positively impact the other based on real world examples.

It's easy to go green and save money!

Support your local farmers and economy by shopping at farmers' markets and picking your own fruits and veggies. To get started, go to's farmers market search to find ones near you. Local produce is fresh and healthy, and it leaves a smaller carbon footprint since it's transported less. Plus, prices are low (and often negotiable), and it's more family fun than a trip to the money-sucking Cineplex.
Put your butt in gear rather than your car. Forty percent of the driving we do is within two miles of where we live. Make a pact this summer to walk or bicycle whenever the trip is two miles or less. Your bank account - and Mother Nature - will thank you for it.
Rediscover your public library. Libraries are not only FREE, but they're COOL. Use the library's air conditioning rather than your own; read and attend summer programs at your local branch. And remember, many libraries loan movies too.
Reduce your water consumption and water bill - make a rain barrel. What a great summertime project! Learn how here!
Set your AC at 75 (or even 78) degrees. I really start to sweat when I see how fast the wheel is going around on the electric meter when the AC is turned on. You can reduce your summer cooling costs by about 4% for every degree warmer you set the thermostat, according to Lee Schipper of UC Berkeley.

Email Leslie Kreinberg - The Green Team Lead to help your organization be more green!

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