The United States is amid a decline in charitable giving. For the first time ever, only half of the households in America donated to a charity.

A study is published every other year by Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy with a survey that tracks the charitable patterns of over 9,000 households. Their recent study shows that 66 percent of families were donating to charities before 2018, then the number dropped to 42 percent.

What is causing the decline?

There is no one cause, as experts have weighed in that there are many contributing factors. One of the possible facts is the decline of attendance in churches which affected donations to religious causes.

Another possible factor is the long-term effects on the younger generation from the Great Recession, as suggested by Una Osili. She is the associate dean for research and international programs at the Lily Family School. She believes that the recession made it harder for the younger generation in America to adopt charitable behaviors. The study found households ran by those under 40 only accounted for a third of donations to charities.

Researchers also suggest that Americans are trusting organizations less and less, which also affects their giving habits. Millennials will likely be the most prominent group for charities to win over as they currently are the group with the least amount of trust.

Wealth is likely the most significant factor when it comes to someone’s charitable donations. In 2018, eight out of ten households with over $200,000 in wealth donated to charity. While four out of ten families with less than $50,000 in wealth donated. In basic terms, rich people donate because they can.

Households headed by someone with a college degree, married and or widowed were also more likely to donate to a charity.

Other research conducted during the pandemic shows these numbers are continually declining, which prompts the question, what are Americans supposed to do when an organization is low on resources? We’re already in the middle of a global pandemic, with families relying on charities to help them survive.

Some researchers believe that charities need to be more open and honest about how and who their organization helps. It could help establish better relationships and increase donations.

It is possible that as things start to normal and people shift their presence back to in-person activities, we will see charities begin to recover. Four in ten upper-class Americans are planning to increase their charitable giving within the following year. Nearly 23 percent of middle-class Americans said the same.

The pandemic caused many families to lose income which is another contributing factor to seeing fewer donations.

While Americans decide whether or not they will donate in the coming years, it’s essential to look at the economic effects of those actions, which are already in trouble.

People lose access to food supplies, housing resources, healthcare and more. Americans need to have access to these resources to survive.

Find ways to help in your community at local charities or even jump in on the national level because even the smallest donation, whether cash or object, goes a long way for these organizations.

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