Americans are slashing expenses left and right due to the economic downturn with entertainment and charitable giving among the first to be cut from their budgets. However, a recent survey shows that faith-based organizations may fare better than other non-profits in terms of donations.
Nearly three out of five (58 percent) respondents to a survey conducted by Wilson Research Strategies for Dunham+Company said the biggest impact of the economy on their household budget is money spent on entertainment, which has been reduced.
Hard times have also caused many Americans to cut back on short-term savings account (40 percent), depositing money into retirement accounts (33 percent), and donations to non-profit organizations (43 percent).
But faith-based charities, although also experiencing a reduction in donations, may see a brighter picture overall than other non-profits. Data from the survey found that 81 percent of those who attend religious services more than once a week intend to give the same or more to charities. These churchgoers are the core donor demographic for religious charities.
"When you look at the data, it is clear that the failing economy has had a very real and direct impact on household budgets, and giving has not escaped that impact," says Rick Dunham, president and CEO of Dunham+Company, which helps ministries with their fundraising, marketing and media strategies.
"There's little doubt that most charities are in for a bit of a rough ride. However, for faith-based charities, I believe the picture is much brighter," he says.
According to the findings, 56 percent of Americans in general say they plan to give the same amount to charities in 2009, with 14 percent saying they intend to give more and 27 percent saying they intend to reduce giving.
Among those who attend religious services more than once a week - about 27 million Americans - 60 percent say they intend to give the same amount in 2009. Slightly more than one in five (21 percent) say they intend to give more, and 17 percent say they plan to reduce their giving.
The expected charitable giving for this year remains relatively consistent across the country, with the exception of those living in the South who demonstrated a slightly greater expectation to continue the same amount of charitable giving.
"With the ongoing tremors in the economy and with households continuing to pull back on spending, charities are going to have to work that much harder to gain a share of household expenditures," Dunham said. "While many people are indeed reducing what they spend, including their giving to charity, I believe the survey indicates the majority of Americans who do give, intend to continue giving, especially those who are active religiously. But I believe it is up to charities to make an even more effective case for that support if they expect to weather this economic storm."
The survey is based on telephone interviews with 1,000 adults nationwide on Jan. 16-20, 2009.