Private Charitable Giving during Economic Recessions


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

This study examines trends in private charitable giving over the past 40 years—a period that includes 7 official recessions. These data suggest that Americans have historically remained consistent in their charitable giving during recessions, although giving has declined during the Great Recession years. By some measures, Americans appear to have become markedly more generous since the early 1990s. Common feelings of scarcity in funding among human services leaders are not unfounded, though, even prior to recent years. Charitable giving dollars—and indeed total revenue dollars—per human services organization have fallen, as growth in the number of agencies has outpaced the substantial growth in revenue sources.

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