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Americans Giving Less to Charity, Study Finds

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Americans are giving less money to charity and volunteering less often than they were just a few years ago, a study released last week by a coalition of nonprofit groups says.

The average amount of money contributed by American households dropped from $978 in 1989 to $880 last year, according to the study, the fourth in a series of biennial surveys conducted by the Gallup Organization for the Washington-based Independent Sector.

Forty-eight percent of respondents said they volunteered last year--a drop of 3 percentage points from 1991 and 6 percentage points from 1989. Most of the decline was in helping on an informal basis, such as cooking for a bake sale or babysitting.

Gallup conducted in-home interviews with 1,509 adults last April and May. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Worried About Future

Compared with the last poll, more respondents reported being worried about their economic futures: 73 percent said they worried about having enough money, up from 67 percent two years ago.

"Although numerous indicators show the nation's economy to be on the rebound, Americans seem to be more insecure about their financial well-being," said Sara Melendez, the president of Independent Sector.

But fewer people said charities are needed more today than they were five years ago--82 percent in the new survey, compared with 88 percent of those polled in 1992.

The percentage of white and Hispanic households that gave to charity increased since the poll two years ago, up from 73.7 percent to 76.6 percent for whites, and from 53.1 percent to 65.4 percent for Hispanics. But the percentage of African-American households that gave to charity declined, from 63.5 percent to 51 percent.

Among these three groups, however, only African-American households reported an increase in average contributions, up from $656 to $663. Average giving by both white and Hispanic households declined.

Independent Sector estimates that 89.2 million adults volunteered in 1993.

Copies of the report are available for $30 each from Independent Sector, 1828 L St., N.W., Suite 1200, Washington, D.C. 20036.

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