Top charities report decline in donations

Six of the nation’s top 10 charities reported a decrease in donations for 2009, and do not expect numbers to improve by the end of the year, according to an article in The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

The United Way, The Salvation Army and American Cancer Society were among the non-profit organizations that saw a decrease in funding. For funding these charities dropped 11 percent nationally last year, according to the article.

Lois Luber, resource development director for United Way of Oswego, said suburban chapters of these companies are more directly impacted than smaller, more rural chapters. Syracuse chapters of United Way are experiencing sharper declines in donations than chapters such as the United Way of Oswego. This is a result of major companies in cities closing, Luber said.

"The state of the economy is definitely what is driving the decrease [in donations] at all," Luber said.

Luber explained the majority of funding for United Way comes from payroll deductions. Employees agree to donate a certain amount of money which the company takes directly out of their paycheck. It is much more difficult to raise money when employees are being laid off.

"If you had to write a check, you’d think twice," Luber said.

The United Way of Oswego saw a roughly 5 percent decrease in pledge amounts last year. They cut their staff down to two full-time employees who help manage the funding and programs.

Luber said that the company is currently focused on getting new relations for funding and making people aware of what United Way does. People are more generous with their money because the Oswego chapter is local, and they will benefit from their donations, she added. About 82 percent of employees from Novelis, a local company, make donations to United Way of Oswego.

"The people in Oswego are so generous," Luber said. "When numerous people are giving a dollar a week, $5 a week, it adds up quickly."

The organization is confident that their funding will be secure for the next year.

Luber said other volunteer-based organizations are confident that participation will also remain steady. Alyssa Amyotte, coordinator of the Center for Service Learning and Community Service, says student participation in community service is at an all-time high. More than 50 students are involved in the Mentor Oswego program to help young kids, many with behavioral issues, learn and grow.

"Numbers [of students] are way up this year," Amyotte said.