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Charitable Giving in the US Declines in 2022, But Still Shows Generosity Amid Challenges


The Giving USA report, released recently, revealed that charitable giving in the United States experienced a decline in 2022, marking only the fourth time in four decades that donations did not increase year over year. The total giving dropped by 3.4% to $499.3 billion in current dollars, amounting to a 10.5% decrease when adjusted for inflation. This decline comes at a time when many nonprofits, especially those serving the needy, report an increase in requests for assistance.

Despite the drop in donations, the results are seen as relatively positive considering the challenging economic climate of late 2022. Josh Birkholz, chairman of the Giving USA Foundation, expressed his mixed feelings about the figures, highlighting the resilience of Americans who still gave nearly half a trillion dollars despite a 20 to 25% decline in the stock market and an 8% inflation rate.

The drop in giving follows two record-setting years for charitable donations, driven by the urgent needs arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. Una Osili, the lead researcher of the Giving USA report and associate dean at Indiana University's Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, pointed out that giving has grown, but there is a concerning trend of fewer people participating. At the beginning of the 21st century, around two-thirds of Americans gave, but that number has now dropped to under 50% for the first time.

This decline in giving has had significant impacts on charities across the country, such as Community Help in Park Slope (CHiPS) in Brooklyn, New York. CHiPS, which operates a soup kitchen, food pantry, and provides support to single mothers and their infants, has faced challenges due to rising inflation and decreased donations. As the cost of living increases, people have less to donate, which puts greater strain on the charity and the individuals it serves.

The situation is further complicated by the presence of asylum seekers near the charity's location, increasing the number of people in need of assistance. While the decline in giving has presented hardships, CHiPS continues to work tirelessly to provide meals and support to those who depend on their services.

Large-scale nonprofits, like the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America, are also grappling with the effects of inflation. While some areas saw a slight increase in donations in 2022, others experienced a decline. The foundation, which grants wishes to children fighting critical illnesses, has had to deal with soaring travel costs, impacting 75% of the wishes they fulfill. They have turned to creative solutions, such as encouraging supporters to donate airline miles and hotel points to help manage expenses.

The Giving USA report indicates that individual donors contributed 64% of donations in 2022, followed by foundations at 21%, bequests at 9%, and corporations at 6%. Engaging new donors has become a priority for many nonprofits, especially as the trend of "dollars up, donors down" continues. To sustain their operations and fulfill their missions, charities are reaching out to potential donors, both individual and corporate, to make a positive impact on their communities.

While charitable giving faced a downturn in 2022, the underlying spirit of generosity remains strong in the US. Nonprofits continue to make a difference despite challenges, and the efforts to engage new donors offer hope for a brighter future for those in need.

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