The annual Wealth and Values Survey, conducted in September and October of 2009 by PNC Wealth Management, revealed that 28 percent of Americans said they are giving less, fallout from the recession. Through Harris Interactive, PNC surveyed 1,046 Americans who have at least $500,000 in investable assets.
And independent registered investment advisoes reported in a Charles Schwab survey conducted in January that although 59 percent of their clients will likely save more in the next six months, only 8 percent plan to make more charitable contributions.
The numbers from 2009 support what the surveys are revealing: According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy's annual list of the most-generous donors, there was a dramatic drop in charitable giving in 2009, when $4.1 billion was donated, compared with $15.5 billion in 2008.
The news isn't good, particularly for the numerous nonprofit aid groups involved in the aftermath of devastating earthquakes in Haiti and Chile. Yet the economy may not have deterred the most serious philanthropists -- in the PNC survey, 55 percent of respondents said they believe giving is a responsibility. That percentage hasn't changed over the last three years of the survey. And both Haiti and Chile have received record amounts of money, partly due to a grassroots effort by average people with a desire to help, and partly due to better use of technology.