More Americans Plan to Increase Charitable Giving, Study Finds

After three years of weakening support for charities, Americans indicated that they are more likely to increase donations this year, according to a study released Monday.

This is the first time since the recession began that Americans said they are more likely to increase their giving to charity than decrease their support, found the annual Dunham+Company New Year's Philanthropy Survey, conducted by Wilson Research Strategies.

Nearly 1 in 5 respondents (18 percent) said they plan to increase their giving in 2011, marking a 29 percent increase in households compared to 2010. There was a 48 percent drop in the number of households that said they plan to decrease their giving and a 20 percent jump in households that said their giving will stay the same.

Also, nearly 3 out of 4 Americans (72 percent) said that their financial situation has improved or at least stayed the same, and 35 percent of households making $100,000 or more said their finances have increased.

"This year's study is very good news for charities," remarked Rick Dunham, president and CEO of Dunham+Company, which helps charitable organizations worldwide with fundraising, marketing and media strategies. "Based on our research, 2011 is a year when we could see the beginning of a comeback for charities."

Dunham, however, expressed concern about the potential impact on donations if Congress decides to eliminate the charitable tax deduction as part of tax reform.

The survey found that nearly 1 out of 2 Americans (48 percent) indicated that the deduction is important in determining the amount they give to charities. The tax deduction is more important to households that make $100,000 or more, with nearly 2 out of 3 (62 percent) saying it influences their giving.

Also, the deduction is significant for those aged 45 to 64, the most vital giving demographic, with 55 percent saying the charitable deduction is important to them.

"The study shows clearly that this tax deduction is a significant factor in charitable giving for the households that are the backbone of non-profit support," Dunham said. "Based on IRS data, households making more than $100,000 represent about 10 percent of the population but make up 69 percent of all individual charitable donations. For 2009, that would have equaled about $150 billion. "

Results from The Dunham+Company New Year's Philanthropy Survey are based on telephone interviews, conducted Jan. 6-10, 2011, with 1,000 adults nationwide.

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