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Report: Minn. Charitable Donations Drop 5 Percent

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Charitable giving has dropped 5 percent in Minnesota, but the state’s residents remain some of the most generous in the country.

A report from the Minnesota Council on Foundations said that donations by individuals, foundations and charitable corporate programs totaled $5.4 billion for the fiscal year ending in May 2009. That was down 5 percent from the year before.

The annual report, released Thursday, also found that individuals continue to make most of the donations in Minnesota. Residents gave $4.02 billion, or 74 percent of the total, during the fiscal year ending in May 2009. However, that was a 7.7 percent drop from the year before.

“We knew a drop was inevitable, given the steep recession and slow economic recovery,” Bill King, president of the Minnesota Council on Foundations, told the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

However, the decrease was smaller in the state than seen nationally, where individual donations fell 13.7 percent during the same period.

The falling support comes at a tough time for charities, said David Bach of Lutheran Social Services. “I don’t think there’s any area that hasn’t seen an increase in need. It’s very difficult to keep up with that,” he said.

At the Salvation Army, the need for services has increased 31 percent since 2008. Bauer said certain services were hit harder than others. The need for food, for an example, went up 150 percent. There are signs that giving won’t keep pace, said Annette Bauer, spokeswoman for the Salvation Army in the Twin Cities.

One company recently included an apologetic letter with its contribution to the Salvation Army, she said. The check was $20,000 less than what the business normally gives. “It’s early in the game, but it definitely makes us nervous, especially when we’ve already had one donor tell us upfront they can’t match what they gave us last year,” Bauer said.

On the upside, the report noted a 3.6 percent increase in Minnesota’s corporate and foundation donations, which totaled $1.42 billion last year. But it warned that future giving by foundations could be restricted by losses in the stock market. The report said foundation assets decreased by 11.5 percent, to $17.3 billion — the largest single-year decline since 1994. The report notes it would have been even worse without the addition of the new Margaret A. Cargill Foundation’s $2.12 billion in assets in 2008.

The Minneapolis Foundation, one of the country’s largest community foundations, reports it awarded $5.4 million less in grants during 2009-10 than it did in the 2008-09 fiscal year.

Sarah Caruso, the CEO of the Greater Twin Cities United Way said that so far in 2010, individual donors do not seem to be holding back.

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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