Annual Giving USA survey proves your charitable dollars count, but add up to less

The Giving USA Foundation annual survey, a report on American philanthropy funded by the nonprofit fund-raising industry and conducted by the Center on
Philanthropy at Indiana University, was released today, and the results conform to the times: Charitable giving was down 2% in 2008, or 5.7% when adjusted for inflation. The survey, which started in 1956, has marked declines only two times previously.

Two-third of public charities took in less money than the year prior. But the total amount received remains impressive: $307.65 billion, compared to $314.07 billion in 2007. When measured against Gross Domestic Product, giving levels in 2008 were consistent with those in 2007: charitable giving, as a percentage of GDP, was 2.2% in 2008, and 2.3% in 2007.