How we gave in 2009

Wednesday, Jan. 6
Posted: 11 a.m. EDT

Some sobering statistics have come out about the state of philanthropy in 2009, but they're not surprising considering the economic retrenchment of those who can most afford to be charitable -- the rich.

According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, charities of all sizes were affected by the recession, with a third expecting 2009 to show a decline in donations of 10 percent or more once the final numbers are in.

According to the Chronicle's tally of giving by the wealthiest Americans, the 10 largest donations in 2009 totaled $2.7 billion, compared with $8 billion in 2008 and more than $4 billion in 2007. And the number of gifts of $1-million or more totaled nearly $3.7 billion as of Dec. 15, compared with $12 billion during the same time period in 2008.

Signs of life?

Yet, there were still some notable gifts.

In the category of large single donations, Philadelphia fared the best last year, thanks to a $747-million gift to the William Penn Foundation for programs to benefit the city of brotherly love. It was given by the Haas family, whose 91-year-old patriarch, John C. Haas, is a scion of the Rohm & Haas Co., a manufacturer of specialty chemicals and a subsidary of Dow Chemical Co.

The second-largest gift last year was $705 million from Stanley and Fiona Druckenmiller to their New York foundation. The couple, both investment managers, have earmarked the money to fund medical research, education and antipoverty programs.

The Chronicle also reports that some charities benefited from an upturn in the stock market in the second half of the year, especially as donors sought ways to avoid taxes on capital gains for recently-purchased stocks. If capital gains tax rates are increased in 2010, look for charity to receive a boost.

Watch a video on how to check out a charity before you give.

Read about the nuts and bolts of charitable trusts.

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