Survey: Charities to See Bright Side of Recession This Christmas?

As the U.S. economy struggles to recover from the recession, Christmas budgets are growing smaller and retailers are feeling the hit. But a new World Vision study shows tighter wallets are leading to more charitable giving.

"This survey shows once again that, during uncertain economic times, Americans continue to prioritize helping those in need," said Traci Coker, World Vision-U.S. Gift Catalog senior director, in a statement. World Vision is a Christian relief and development organization.

According to the study, which World Vision has annually conducted over the past three years, more than 7 in 10 Americans report that they'll spend less on holiday presents this year because of the current economic climate. That is only a slight increase since last year (71 percent versus 69 percent last year).

For the past four Christmas seasons, Americans have said they wanted their dollars to mean more. World Vision reported that 51 percent of Americans say they're now more likely to give a charitable gift as a holiday present this year.

Eighty percent of adults say they'd prefer to receive a "meaningful gift" that would help someone else instead of a traditional holiday gift like clothing or electronics, the study showed. About 7 in 10 U.S. adults (71 percent) – both this year and last – agreed that they plan to increase their charitable giving once the economy improves.

"It is worth noting that while the proportion who wants to receive a meaningful gift has been steady over the past two years, it is still an increase since the low of 76 percent who felt this way in 2009," said Michele Salomon, senior research director at Harris Interactive.

"This suggests that the relevance or meaning of the cause, charity or gift becomes more important for people as they make giving decisions in a strained economic environment,” she said in a statement.

The survey was conducted Oct. 26-30, by telephone within the United States, among 1,007 U.S. adults aged 18 or older. The study was performed by Harris Interactive on behalf of World Vision, Inc.

World Vision produces a gift catalog each year, allowing people to donate money to buy goats, basic necessities, education and other gifts for children and families in need around the world. Gifts can be purchased in the name of a friend, family member or business associate as a Christmas gift.

"A gift given from the gift Catalog significantly improves the life of a child or family in need by providing tools and opportunities to overcome extreme poverty, while at the same time honoring your friends and loved ones," Coker said.