End-of-Year Giving Boosts 2011 Fundraising Results for Many Charities

Several large charities received record-breaking donations during the holiday season, an indication that charitable giving may be on its way to recovering from the depressed levels of 2008 and 2009, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Some fundraising professionals are encouraged by the year-end fundraising efforts of groups like the Salvation Army, whose Red Kettle campaign brought in $147.6 million during the holiday season — a 4 percent increase over 2010 and up 6 percent from 2009. Elsewhere, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis raised more than $64 million during the final months of the year, up from $61.2 million in 2010; Save the Children's direct-mail gift catalog generated a 31 percent year-over-year increase in revenue; and Feeding America raised $7 million, up from $5.9 million in 2010, exceeding its holiday fundraising goal.

Charitable giving in the U.S. peaked in 2007 at $311 billion before dropping in each of the next two years. According to the most recent Giving USA report, charitable giving increased slightly in 2010, to $291 billion, and early indicators suggest that giving was up again in 2011. Indeed, preliminary data from Blackbaud indicates that total giving for 2011 was up 3.5 percent over 2010, aided by a 2.1 percent year-over-year jump in giving in December.

Maj. George Hood, national community relations and development secretary for the Salvation Army, speculated that unseasonably warm weather and modest improvements in individuals' finances may have aided holiday fundraising efforts. And Association of Fundraising Professionals president and CEO Andrew Watt said that an increase in gift size also was a factor. "What we've seen is, I think, a reaffirmation that the American public did not reduce the number of gifts it was making [during the recession], but reduced the amount of the gift," Watt told the Journal. But now, he added, "The value of the gift is going up."

Melanie Grayce West. "Charities Ended 2011 on High Note." Wall Street Journal 01/30/2012.