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This Week in PubHub: Giving/Volunteerism Trends

December 02, 2011

(Kyoko Uchida manages PubHub, the Foundation Center's online catalog of foundation-sponsored publications. In her previous post, she looked at four reports that examine the impact of the Great Recession on rental housing and what philanthropic institutions are doing to address the situation.)

With the giving season in full swing, PubHub will be featuring reports on a wide range of topics about philanthropy and voluntarism through the end of the year. This week we're highlighting four publications that look at how much and why people give.

Researched by the folks at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and published by the Giving USA Foundation, Giving USA 2011: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2010 Executive Summary (34 pages, PDF) reports that estimated total giving increased 2.1 percent (adjusted for inflation) in 2010, to $290.89 billion, while giving by individuals increased an inflation-adjusted 1.1 percent. The report also found that corporate giving rose 8.8 percent, charitable bequests jumped 16.9 percent, and giving by foundations fell 1.8 percent. Funded by Blackbaud, the David and Linda Shaheen Foundation, and the Schwab Charitable Fund, among others, the report finds reason for optimism in the overall giving number but suggests that a return to pre-recession giving levels will be delayed by the the slow and uncertain nature of the recovery.

According to the Urban Institute report What's Been Happening to Charitable Giving Recently? A Look at the Data (7 pages, PDF), it would take six years at the current rate for charitable giving in the U.S. to return to its pre-recession level. Donations by individuals, which account for up to 80 percent of total giving, were hardest hit by the recession, with cash and non-cash contributions falling 13 percent and 47 percent, respectively, between 2007 and 2009. Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the report also analyzes the effects of past tax policy changes with respect to charitable giving and finds that replacing the deduction with a 12 percent tax credit would result in a bigger drop in contributions than would capping the deduction at 28 percent.

In The Giving Commitment: Knowing Your Motivation (7 pages, PDF), the smart people at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors look at some of the reasons why individuals as different as George Soros, Oprah Winfrey, and Oseola McCarty -- a washerwoman with a sixth-grade education who gave $150,000 of her life savings to fund college scholarships for African-American students -- give. Whether motivated by legacy, faith, values, a sense of obligation, or some other factor, it is important, the guide suggests, for donors who want to be more strategic and effective in their giving to articulate their motivations and clarify what they hope to achieve.

Religion and identity are two of the factors discussed in Volunteering + Values: A Repair the World Report on Jewish Young Adults (66 pages, PDF), a report from Repair the World in partnership with the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies and Gerstein | Agne Strategic Communications. Based on a survey that asked young Jewish adults about their motivations, attitudes toward, and concerns about volunteering, the report found that while individuals whose parents volunteered and those who are deeply engaged in religious life are more likely to volunteer on a regular basis, only a small percentage actually do so with Jewish organizations. And whereas some see their volunteer work grounded in Jewish values of compassion and social justice, others consider these to be universal values and do not see their volunteer work in connection with Jewish tradition, values, or identity. The report suggests a number of strategies for engaging a broader cross-section of young Jewish adults in volunteering, including framing service in universal terms and as a responsibility of Jews to help others in need, regardless of religious affiliation.

What motivates you to give or volunteer? And what determines how much you give, in what form, and to which causes? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

And don't forget to visit PubHub, where you can browse nearly fifteen hundred reports related to philanthropy and voluntarism.

-- Kyoko Uchida

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