Charitable giving up this year, Red Kettle sees it

With people building up their checkbook balances now that the economy is picking up, non-profits are seeing an increase in giving this year. When it comes to the Salvation Army's Red Kettle Campaign, organizer Michele Baker said locally there's a...

With people building up their checkbook balances now that the economy is picking up, non-profits are seeing an increase in giving this year.

When it comes to the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign, organizer Michele Baker said locally there’s a rise in giving as well.

“I don’t have a comparison 100 percent from last year, but I do believe we are up.”

And that will likely to continue to rise throughout the next few weeks while the kettles are still out until Christmas.

This weekend is the Central Market holiday open house, and Baker said the Red Kettle does “very well” during that event.


“We are expecting to see some great things there.”

“We’re seeing some checks, which is awesome,” she said.

With the nice weather we’ve been having, she said, more bell ringers will hopefully volunteer to ring at Walmart over the next week or so because it is one of the more profitable locations.

The kettles are located at Central Market, L&M Fleet, Walmart, Washington Square Mall and Kmart.

There are shifts open at the Walmart location, and they can be done in various increments. Contact Baker at 234-9414 to sign up.

“The weather is supposed to be nice the next week or two so maybe we can get some brave souls out there to give us a call and ring the bell because we do way better when we can get someone in front of that kettle.”

This profitable year for non-profits isn’t just in our backyard either.

There are strong signs, according to a statewide study released Thursday, that charitable giving across Minnesota is making a slow, steady climb to pre-recession levels.


Giving has risen for four straight years, according to the most recent data from the Minnesota Council on Foundations, which has been tracking charitable donations and grants statewide since 1976.

In 2012 - the most recent year for which data is available - charitable giving in Minnesota by individuals plus foundations and corporations reached $5.73 billion, up from $5.61 billion in 2011 and $5.42 billion in 2010.

Following a significant dip in donations starting in 2008, charities across the country had wondered whether they would ever see the same level of charitable monies, noted Minnesota Council on Foundations president Trista Harris.

“There was a lot of conversation of the ‘the new normal,’ that grant and foundation giving would not go back to pre-collapse levels. … The country and foundations were completely blindsided,” Harris said. “Now, I think we’re much more optimistic.”

Giving in 2007, the year before donations started to dip, was about $6.1 billion when adjusted for inflation. In 2009, the worst year of the recession, giving had dipped to $5.3 billion with inflation.

Now, aided by improving investment returns and stronger corporate profits, giving from foundations and corporations, as opposed to individuals, has eclipsed pre-recession levels, the data show: $1.6 billion in 2012, as opposed to $1.5 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars just before the economic collapse.

Additionally, “I’m seeing foundations do a lot more than just give grant money,” Harris said. “Most foundations give 5 percent of assets every year, and we usually wouldn’t even talk about that other 95 percent.”

Now, foundations are using that “untouchable” 95 percent to directly invest in outside organizations, through loans or direct contributions, Harris said. However, individual giving in Minnesota has yet to fully recover.


In 2007, it totaled $4.64 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars, compared with $4.14 billion in 2012.

While unemployment in Minnesota dipped from a high of 8.3 percent in April 2009 to 5.6 percent in April 2012, according to state statistics, it is difficult to precisely determine median household income without full U.S. census data, which arrives every decade. Estimates show that median income in Minnesota remained relatively flat from 2010 to 2012. The council study was complied with IRS data from individuals, corporations and foundations. The latest data included organizations with fiscal years ending between June 2012 and May 2013.

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