Donations drop 11 percent for big charities

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - According to philanthropy monitors, the nation's biggest charities experienced the biggest drop in the last two decades, since the Chronicle of Philanthropy began keeping a tally.

The Philanthropy 400 report shows national charities saw an 11 percent drop in 2009 from the following year.  Despite a decline of 8.4 percent, the United Way tops the list with the Salvation Army falling in second.

Only four charities in the top ten reported an increase in contributions over the past year, including Catholic Charities which saw a 66 percent jump.

Local chapters say their situation is consistent with the national picture, but are optimistic about their budgets for 2010.

According to The Chronicle, more than four charitable groups provided projections for 2010 – all having an average change predicted of a 1.4 percent increase.

Many people depend on charities like the Salvation Army for help during the holidays.  So far 1,500 to 2,000 families have signed up for assistance in Wilmington.  With the overwhelming number, some families will be turned away.

"That's the sad thing," said Salvation Army Corps Officer Richard Watts.  "There are people who are needy who will not get the assistance because you don't have the resources to give everyone."

Watts said you can always expect to see an increase during the holiday season, but the economy has affected people's pockets.

"It's just a really difficult environment right now, and more and more families are feeling the pinch and being forced in position asking for help that they've never had to before," said Christopher Nelson with the United Way.

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