Donations Are Up for 2011 Giving Season, Survey Finds

With the holiday giving season in its final stretch, 54 percent of charities surveyed have received more in donations than they had at this point in 2010, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports.

Of the 152 organizations the Chronicle surveyed, one in five reported donations outpacing last year's gift revenue by at least 20 percent. Nearly 60 percent expected to end 2011 with a year-over-year increase in gift revenue, while 28 percent expected revenue to be down.

Organizations reporting an increase in donations attributed it not only to the recovering economy but also to creative online appeals and efforts to communicate their impact more effectively. For example, Little Rock, Arkansas-based Heifer International is asking young donors to "try giving a crap" — by providing livestock to smallholder family farms, where the manure from the gifted animal can be used as fertilizer to increase crop yields and as fuel for biogas stoves. The charity hopes to appeal to young supporters "in a way that engages them" and at the same time addresses hunger and poverty in a serious way, CEO Pierre Ferrari told the Chronicle. "We're not in the funny business, but we can have fun doing it."

Still, many charities said demand for asssitance is rising faster than giving, while 41 percent said donation income remained below pre-recession levels. "Our donations are keeping pace with past year-end giving," Kathleen King, senior vice president for external relations at Catholic Charities USA, told the Chronicle, "but unfortunately the need is greater than ever and growing."

Raymund Flandez. "Half of Charities Say Holiday Giving Season Has Been Happy." Chronicle of Philanthropy 12/19/2011.