- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 24, 2001

Seventy percent of Americans gave money, blood or time to relief efforts after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, and most of them plan to continue giving to charity, says a trade group for foundations and nonprofit groups.

The findings, based on a poll of 1,009 adults, offer some comfort to nonprofit groups that have been worried the outpouring of about $1 billion to Sept. 11 relief efforts will siphon money away from other causes.

The poll, commissioned by Independent Sector, found that 73 percent of those who gave to Sept. 11 relief efforts expect to keep giving to charity. Of those 73 percent, most said they would give as much as they normally do, while 14 percent said they would give even more than normal.

However, 26 percent of those who gave to Sept. 11 charities said they have now given all or almost all that they can.

This reduction in giving by a quarter of donors will likely have a big effect on small nonprofit organizations and reduce donations to many charities in the short term, Wirthlin Worldwide said in its report to Independent Sector.

The outlook for charitable giving is mixed for the next six months, said officers of Independent Sector, a coalition of some 700 foundations, national nonprofit groups and corporate philanthropy programs.

"The convergence of three factors the terrorist attacks, a shaky economy and rising needs has made this a precarious time for charities as they work to serve their communities," said Sara E. Melendez, president and chief executive officer of Independent Sector.

The good news is that the poll results show most Americans view their giving to Sept. 11 charities as "over and above their normal giving," she said.

"Despite this encouraging finding, the economy presents a cause for concern," she said, because 48 percent of Americans said they would be likely to reduce their giving if the economy worsened.

Many foundations and corporations already have given notice that their future giving will be reduced because of the slowing economy, said Pat Read, Independent Sector's vice president for public affairs.

Still, the poll numbers "give us reason for optimism," she said. A significant portion of young donors, age 35 or younger, said they would be continuing to give at even higher levels.

The terror attacks may be a defining moment for young Americans and "lead to a whole new level of community awareness," Miss Read added.

The poll, which was taken in early October, found that:

• Seventy percent of 1,009 adults had responded in one or more ways to Sept. 11 relief efforts: Fifty-eight percent gave money, 13 percent gave blood and 11 percent donated time.

• The most successful fund-raising approach was through the workplace 39 percent of the givers said they responded to appeals at their jobs. Other successful approaches were religious appeals (32 percent responding) and in-person solicitations (23 percent responding.) Appeals by radio, TV, newspaper or magazine, telethons, direct mail and Internet each had response rates of 14 percent or less.

• Twenty-three percent of donors made contributions through the mail, 9 percent gave over the telephone and 5 percent gave on the Internet.

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