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(RNS) Religious organizations reported a 5.5 increase in donations last year, a marked contrast from the nationwide 2-percent decline in charitable giving, according to a study by Giving USA Foundation.
Religious congregations, which accounted for 35 percent of the total
$307 billion in charitable contributions, exceeded $100 billion in donations for the second year in a row.
Though public-society benefit and international affairs organizations also cited increases in charitable contributions, two-thirds of public charities reported a decrease for only the second time in the report’s 54-year history.
The economic recession spurred this decline, Del Martin, the chairwoman of the foundation, said in a statement. “We definitely did see belt-tightening … but it could have been a lot worse,” Martin said.
Even with the cutbacks, the total still exceeded the $300 billion mark for the second consecutive year.
The survey showed that 54 percent of human services charities saw an increase in need for their services in 2008, and 60 percent were forced to cut expenses. Organizations serving youth development were hit the hardest, with 74 percent reporting funding shortages.
The majority of donations came from individual contributors, who gave more than $229 billion. Gifts to religious organizations made up half of all individual contributors. Corporate donations totaled $14 billion, a 4.5 percent decrease from the year before.
By Lindsay Perna
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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