Year-End Donations Are Not-For-Profits Saving Grace

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American's may not be the healthiest or the most frugal people on the planet, but they do have generous hearts. Americans give more money to charity than any other country.

And each year around the Christmas holidays, the money given to non-profits is extremely helpful for them. It is the time that keeps them alive the rest of the year. And those donations appear to be increasing, even in a time of financial instability.

When The Chronicle of Philanthropy did its year end check of 20 charities, every one queried said they raised more money during the last quarter of the year, than they did before the financial crisis began in 2008.

That is saying something - people who are unsure of their financial future are giving, right along with the wealthy.

Online donations appear to be extremely good, rising 17 percent in the last 2 months of the year says Network for Good.

Even the wealthy are giving more to charitable non-profits. Schwab Charitable that offers donor-advised funds saw over $950 million dollars in 2013, increasing almost 80 percent from 2012.

Kim Laughton, Schwab Charitable’s president, says the growth in the stock market is a key reason for the rise because many of the fund’s donors make gifts of securities. Also considered are the tax rate benefits of giving for the wealthy Americans.

“It is so much better for charities when the market is healthy at the end of the year,” says Ms. Laughton. “A great market and higher tax rates have driven a lot of our growth.”

Other donor-advised funds are seeing some pretty encouraging increases in donations this year as well. The Greater Cincinnati Foundation saw $3.3 million dollars more this year than 2012. “It’s encouraging to see we are ahead,” says Amy Cheney, vice president for giving strategies. “The market being strong right now has to be a big help with people’s confidence.”

However, not every charity has recovered from the big recession - especially those that rely on year-end donations. For example, Marine Toys for Tots Foundation has seen a decrease in donated toys in 2013.

But even with donations on the rise, “there is still reticence about multiyear pledges,” says Carol Julian, Stetson’s vice president for university relations. “People are committed to their favorite charities, but long-term commitments are still harder.”

Image via Wikimedia Commons

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