- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 6, 2001

Nearly 90 percent of American households donated money to charity in 2000, giving an average amount of $1,620 or 3.2 percent of their income, according to a study.
This finding "demonstrates that Americans are generous year-round, even in more ordinary times," said Sara E. Melendez, president and chief executive officer of the Independent Sector, a coalition for more than 700 charities, nonprofit groups and foundations.
Still, between the September 11 terror attacks and troubling economic indicators, charities face anything but flush times ahead, said Patricia Nash Workman, spokeswoman for Independent Sector, which is holding its annual conference in Atlanta this week.
Both issues are coming up at every session, she said, and one prominent speaker described the outlook for charitable giving as "choppy waters."
Charitable giving itself has come under scrutiny since the terror attacks: More than $1.1 billion has been raised for September 11 relief efforts but relatively modest amounts have gone to the victims' families, which is prompting criticism. Two House panels have scheduled hearings this week to examine how the funds are being spent.
Last week, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said that a team of technology and information firms, including IBM, SilverStream Software, Qwest Communications, KPMG and McKinsey & Co., are creating a confidential, shared database of World Trade Center victims.
The database modeled on one used after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing is a "major step forward … as we try to ensure that the public's unprecedented outpouring of generosity for the victims is used wisely and efficiently and gets to them as quickly as possible," Mr. Spitzer said last week.
The American Red Cross, September 11th Fund, Salvation Army and Safe Horizon, which together have handled more than 80 percent of the $1.1 billion raised in relief efforts, will make use of the database, Mr. Spitzer said.
Between May and July of this year, Independent Sector surveyed 4,216 adults about their charitable giving in 2000. They found that 89 percent of American adults donated money, property, stocks or other valuable items to one or more of 1.23 million charities, social welfare organizations and religious congregations.
Forty-six percent of households gave money or valuables, while another 42 percent donated both time as a volunteer and money. Two percent of households volunteered time but not money.
The Independent Sector study which tracks the charitable giving habits of Americans did not report how much was given in 2000. However, in May, the American Association of Fundraising Counsel, estimated that $203.45 billion was given in 2000, a 6.6 percent increase from 1999.
The Independent Sector survey found that 59 percent of households were concerned about the economy. Households that said they were "worried about having enough money in the future" gave about half that of worry-free households $1,201 compared with $2,205, the study said.
The Independent Sector survey also found that:
Households with family members who attended religious services each month give $2,151 compared with $964 given by those who were not regular attendees.
The 83.9 million people who volunteered gave an average of 3.6 hours per week. This is the equivalent of 9 million full-time workers with a value of $239 billion.
Of the 60 percent of households with Internet access, 13 percent used their computers to research charities. Of this subgroup, 12 percent made donations online.


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