As the economy continued to plummet to levels many thought impossible in the first quarter of 2009, few sectors trembled more than the non-profit community.
With incomes down, jobs lost, and retirement funds crippled, many are wondered what people would have left to give. Times will certainly be tough, but there is a silver lining to hold onto. Even in the Great Depression, Americans gave. While total giving dropped, charity as a percentage of income sunk only slightly, less than two percent.
While arts organizations felt a bigger hit, education and human services saw people shift their giving to them, which helped make up for declines. Here’s a look at giving in times good and bad, in simple numbers.
The total giving by Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller in their lifetimes (in 2003 dollars)
Total federal spending in 1910 (in 2003 dollars)
Total given or pledged by Bill Gates in 2003
Total federal spending in 2003
Percent decline in charitable giving in the United States from 1929 to 1933
The drop in giving as a percentage of income by Americans throughout the depression
Percent decline in giving to colleges and universities from 1930 – 1938
Percent of all charitable giving that comes from families with a net worth of $5 million or more
The mean giving for households with a net worth between $1 million and $5 million in 2007
The average amount contributed to charities by U.S. households in 2004
Rank of Utah in charitable giving per household in the United States
Rank of Wisconsin
Sources: Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University; Futureofphilanthropy.org; New York Times; Philanthropy.com; Wealth Manager Magazine; USA Today