While President Obama and his minions will never tell citizens they should stop giving to faith-based organizations, their actions appear to be intentionally or unintentionally stifling such charitable giving. It’s a fact that many politicians in Washington believe the government is better able to distribute charitable services than people whom they view as simpleminded Bible-thumpers.
According to a survey conducted on behalf of Dunham+Company by Wilson Research Strategies, Americans reported that they are beginning to spend more of their disposable income on entertainment and other household expenses, while continuing to reduce or stop their charitable giving.
Compared to the 2009 study, Dunham+Company's 2010 New Year's Philanthropy Survey shows that in spite of a surprising 56% jump in the number of households indicating they have not reduced their household budget as a result of the economy, 37% of the respondents said they continue to reduce their charitable donations and nearly 1 in 4 reported in the survey that they have completely stopped charitable giving. The WRS survey reveals that statistically the 2010 rates are the same as last year's rates.
However, Rick Dunham, the president and CEO of Dunham+Company, a firm that helps Christian ministries with marketing, fundraising and media relations, said there are some exceptions.
“When you dig into the data, you find that more of those who frequent religious services indicate that in spite of the economy, they are continuing or increasing their support of charity in 2010 compared to 2009,” he said in a press statement. “Fewer of these households have reduced or stopped their giving. This is especially impressive as there is actually a 10% increase in the number of non-religious households who say they have stopped their giving as we enter 2010.”
Dunham+Company's survey also indicates that households earning $35,000 or less are much more likely to have reduced or stopped charitable giving (33% more than the national average), whereas households earning $100,000 or more are less likely to have reduced or stopped their charitable giving (38% less than the national average). However, about one in six frequent churchgoers say they do intend to give more, which is 33% greater than those who do not attend church.
While the survey reveals a disturbing reduction in charitable giving, respondents are not enthusiastic about having the federal government come in to pick up the slack.
For example, when asked about their support for federal funding of health care necessitating increased taxes on the wealthy, a whopping 63% of those surveyed rejected such a policy.
“The data related to giving basically remains unchanged from 2009,” Dunham said. “Most charities should expect contributions to remain relatively flat this year, which is not good news for the many non-profits that are struggling. But religious charities should fare better than most as there are a greater number of these households indicating they are supporting charities as we begin this year compared to last year.”
Mr. Dunham points to one bright spot, however, for all charities. The findings do indicate that there should be a resurgence in giving by households making $75,000 or more a year. Among those making $75,000 but less than $100,000, this year’s survey showed an 80% jump in those who intend to increase their support of charity in 2010 (18% in 2010 compared to 10% in 2009) and for households making $100,000 or more there was a 31% jump compared to one year ago (21% in 2010 compared to 16% in 2009).
But now that Obama has unveiled his budget and the increase in taxes on households making $250,000 or more and decreasing the amount they can deduct for charitable giving, this intention to give more may be short-lived.
The economic crisis and now the policies of the Obama Administration may mean a prolonged American charity slump that will wreak havoc on charities for years to come.