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Donations to Biggest U.S. Charities Fell in 2009: Chronicle of Philanthropy

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Donations to the largest U.S. charities fell by 11% in 2009, The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported Sunday. The Chronicle said the decline was the worst in the two decades since it began publishing its Philanthropy 400 ranking of the nonprofit organizations that raise the most money from private sources. Indeed, the drop in contributions was nearly four times as great as the next biggest annual decrease: 2.8% in 2001.

This year does not look much better. For the more than one in four groups that provided projections for 2010, the median change they predicted was an increase of only 1.4%, The Chronicle said in its report.

The 400 institutions in the survey raised $68.6 billion in 2009. The median amount the charities brought in also declined last year to $98.8 million, down from $105 million in 2008.

Among the 10 charities that raised the most money last year, six reported declines, including No. 1-ranked United Way Worldwide (down 4.5%) and No. 2 Salvation Army (down 8.4%). Among the gainers in the top 10 were third-ranked Catholic Charities USA and fourth-ranked AmeriCares Foundation, up 66% and 18%, respectively.