Times are tough right now if you’re a charitable organization. Here in Edmonton, the outlook is pretty grim for a number of organizations:
- The Edmonton Food Bank is short 161,000 kilograms of food and nearly $550,000.
- The Salvation Army is about $195,000 behind the goal for its Christmas Kettle campaign.
- The Christmas Bureau is only half way to its goal of $1.6 million (which is actually pretty impressive).
- The Youth Emergency Shelter Society is more than $750,000 behind its fundraising goal for the year.
- The Mustard Seed is roughly $459,000 behind its fundraising goal.
- Meals on Wheels is about $45,000 behind its fundraising goal.
- The Edmonton Sun Adopt-A-Teen program is $200,000 behind with only a day or so left.
Add up the above numbers, and Edmonton charities are short about $3 million. That’s a lot of money. The scary part is that I’m sure there are more than I haven’t been able to find yet.
While the news is terrible, it’s not that surprising. Last year donations across Canada dropped 5.3% from 2007 to $8.19 billion, the lowest figure since 2005. I’m sure we’ll see a similar or perhaps larger drop for overall giving in 2009. The fact is, philanthropy is a lagging indicator. This data is from the US but I think it applies to us too:
During the last 40 years, according to data provided by Giving USA, charitable giving fell in real terms (i.e., adjusted for inflation) in years in which the economy was in recession, or in years in which there was a significant stock market dislocation. Giving fell in 1980, 1987, and 1990. The last time the economy contracted was in 2001. That year, according to Giving USA, charitable giving fell 2.3 percent in real terms, after having boomed along with the stock markets and the economy at large in the late 1990s. But while the economy resumed its growth in late 2001, charitable giving slumped in real terms in both 2001 (down 1.4 percent) and 2003 (down 0.2 percent).
It’s a lagging indicator because charitable donations are seen as a luxury. You pay your bills first, then you make a donation. Not everyone sees it that way, of course, but on the whole, that’s the reality.
Hopefully that means local charities will have a better year in 2010.
There’s still time to help this holiday season! Here’s how: