Donations may drop during holiday season

Although most Americans plan to continue to support their favourite charities this holiday season, there's concerning news on the horizon.

More than two-fifths of those surveyed by Campbell Rinker/Dunham and Company said they will not contribute to other organisations they have supported in the past or new ones, likely leading to a softening of support for charities.

The study asked donors what they intend to give compared to last year in four categories: their favourite charities, charities they've supported in the past but not their favourite charity, houses of worship and charities they have never supported before.

Almost 8 out of 10 donors (79 per cent) said they will give the same as last holiday season to their favorite charities. However, 15 per cent of donors said they will reduce giving to their favourite charities and only 6 per cent say they will give more.

When it comes to supporting charities that are not their favourite, but they have supported before, 42 per cent of donors said they will be pulling back on their giving compared to last year.

The study revealed the outlook is even worse for charities that donors have never supported before, as nearly half of donors (46 per cent) said that compared to last year, they are less likely to support charities they have never supported before.

Even houses of worship can expect a decrease in giving, as 23 per cent of donors said they will give less to the place they worship than last year. One bright spot is that those who frequent services (defined as "almost weekly or more") indicated they will more likely increase giving rather than decrease it (16 per cent compared to 12 per cent).

According to the news release, donors indicate four major reasons why they would pull back on giving this holiday season compared to last year. They are health care costs (36 per cent), their personal financial situation (35 per cent), uncertainty over the economy (34 per cent) and the prospect of the "fiscal cliff" (32 per cent).

"The ongoing concerns over the economy and its impact on the personal financial situation that many donors face is clearly continuing to take a toll on charitable giving," said Rick Dunham, President and CEO of Dunham and Company, speaking in the news release. His organization is a US-based firm that provides fundraising consultation to charities around the world.

He added, "This is a real concern as many, if not most, charities rely on the final month of the year for the largest portion of their financial support. And with annual charitable giving here in the US still $12 billion below 2007 levels, and no real recovery so far this year, this is not an encouraging sign for nonprofits as they head into these final and vital weeks of fundraising for 2012."

The Dunham and Company study was part of a Campbell Rinker Donor Confidence Survey conducted November 13-17 among 458 US adult donors who had given at least $20 in the previous year. The online responses were weighted by age to reflect the general US population per the 2010 census. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.6 per cent at the 95 per cent confidence level.