Charities Cope With Drop In Donations

By WGBH News


Nov. 30, 2011

BOSTON — Those paper pleas for donations that pour through the mail slot with the holiday catalogs and credit-card bills are coming with a greater urgency this season: Mass. charities are trying to deal with with a significant drop in giving.
The prolonged recession has had a leveling effect across the region, from job loss and home foreclosures to slashed budgets and reduced hiring. Local charities have been hit especially hard with an increased demand for services like housing, food and fuel assistance. 

But financial support from the community hasn't kept pace.
Ellen Parker, the executive director of Project Bread, said on The Callie Crossley show on Nov. 30 that the organization has received six percent less in donations this year.
Meanwhile, she said, “We have a food source hotline where people call from all over Massachusetts. Those calls have gone up from 36,000 to nearly 50,000 in two years.”
Paul Schervish, director of the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College, said that donors are choosing to spend money closer to home.
“What we discovered is that while these people — when you ask them carefully about what they give formally to charity — turned out to be giving almost to the penny what the average was in the nation. But over and above that, they provided five times more in goods, in housing, in automobiles, in food and school clothes to family members in need,” Schervish said.

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