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The Good News about Bad-Giving Numbers

Just when private charities are needed the most, many are struggling the most. According to Giving USA, individual Americans donated $229 billion to charity in 2008, a 2.7 percent drop compared with giving in 2007, and the first decline in annual charitable giving since 1987.  And according to the December 10, 2009, “Chronicle of Philanthropy,” “93 percent of charities feel [the] effects of recession.” Overall giving is not expected to return to pre-recession levels until 2012.

Yet according Wesley K. Wilmer, Ph.D., senior vice president of Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), the current economic clouds have some little-noticed silver linings.

•  First, in the recently published book, “Who Really Cares,” Syracuse University researcher Dr. Arthur Brooks explains how people who place faith and family at the top of their priority list tend to give more money to helping those in need than people who are not religious.

•  Second, Americans don’t have to give all that much more to have a big impact in these tough times. With charitable organizations scrambling, according to the “Chronicle,” to mount a “full-court press for modest gifts,” per-person giving across the country averages about $763 annually—or about $2 a day. Imagine the good that Christians could do if they upped their giving by a mere $1 a day.

Wilmer, author, co-author, editor or editor-in-chief of 23 books and many professional journal publications, says people of faith are in position to make a dramatic difference in charitable giving and in the life of the nation. “At this giving time of the year,” Wilmer says, “maybe we should reassess the priority we place on generous giving.”

Wilmer, author of the books “Revolution in Generosity” and “God and Your Stuff,” is available for interviews, as the subject of articles on year-end giving, and as an author to write targeted pieces for publications on this topic.

Founded in 1979, ECFA (www.ecfa.org) provides accreditation to leading Christian nonprofit organizations that faithfully demonstrate compliance with established standards for financial accountability, fund-raising and board governance. Members include Christian ministries, denominations, churches, educational institutions, and other tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organizations.

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