Annual Dunham+Company Survey Shows Donor Confidence Lowest Since 2008
In an ominous sign for charities, Americans say they will pull back on their giving in the coming year, according to the 2013 Dunham+Company/Wilson Perkins Allen State of Philanthropy Study.
Donors indicated that their giving in 2013 will revert to recession-like levels, with 27 percent of adults – the same percentage as 2009 and 2010 and more than double the percentage in 2012 – saying they would be giving less in the coming year (see graph below).
“Although Americans feel their personal economic situation is more stable, the findings from this year’s study mirror the findings during the depths of the recession, which is not good,” said Rick Dunham, President+CEO of Dunham+Company.
“Our research has shown that charitable giving is at risk when there is uncertainty in the economy as people conserve out of fear for what the future might hold. With the uncertainty over the implications of what might be done during the debt ceiling negotiations regarding tax rates or deductions and the continued ambiguity around the effects of Obamacare, there is plenty for Americans to worry about, so we should not be surprised if there is a downturn in charitable support.”
View the study findings (PDF download) (867KB)
In addition, those indicating they would give more than usual to charity in the coming year fell 30 percent from 2012 – the lowest level of intent to increase charitable support since 2008. Those indicating they would give the same to charity in 2013 fell 10 percent from 2012.
Individuals who indicated they would give less in 2013 cut across demographic lines. However, the most significant shifts were among those 45-54 years old, which is a key giving demographic and represents those in their key earning years, as well as those 65 and older. There was a 20 percent jump in those 45-54 who said they will decrease giving and an 18 percent increase among those 65 and older who said the same.
The intended reduction in giving was spread evenly geographically.
And although the study indicated middle-class America (those earning less than $100,000) was the group most likely to decrease giving, nearly twice as many of those making $100,000 or more — who make up over 60 percent of all charitable giving — indicated they would pull back this year compared to last.
This pullback in giving is expected in spite of households feeling their financial situation is more stable. The percentage of households who said their budgets have not decreased has doubled since 2009. In 2009, 18 percent of households said their budget had not decreased, but in 2013, 39 percent indicated the same.
In addition, respondents said they are spending more on entertainment and continuing to put money into savings.
“Since 2008, the Dunham+Company State of Philanthropy study has accurately predicted the direction of giving for the coming year,” Dunham concluded. “Based on this year’s study, it’s clear that charities will be sailing into a headwind in 2013 and that the slight recovery in charitable giving over the last few years will be in jeopardy. It’s not good news that giving will most likely decline at a time when most charities are still trying to recover from the 2008 recession.”
This study of adults nationwide was conducted on behalf of Dunham+Company by Wilson Perkins Allen Opinion Research. Respondents were contacted by a live telephone operator for an interview Jan. 10-13, 2013. The study has a sample size of 1,000 adults nationwide, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent.