Giving by Wealthy Americans Wavers

Almost four years after the failure of Lehman Brothers caused equity markets to tank, erasing trillions of dollars in unrealized capital gains, nonprofit development professionals continue to struggle to raise funds, especially from wealthy individuals, the reports.

According to newly released data from the , Americans wrote off $158-billion in charitable donations in 2009 and $172-billion in 2008. The data also found that giving by people with incomes of at least $200,000 fell some $31 billion between 2007 and 2009, while giving by those earning less than $100,000 fell $4 billion.

Indeed, the so-called Great Recession caused a bigger drop in charitable giving than previously estimated, according to figures released this week by , which, after adjusting for a clerical error in its estimates for charitable bequests, reported that giving fell by an estimated 15.2 percent over the 2008-09 period.

According to the Chronicle, many fundraisers had expected giving by the wealthiest to recover by now. But uncertainty over tax policy, among other things, has caused many donors to hold off on major gift commitments. Indeed, said Memphis fundraising consultant Robert Sharpe, policy makers need to be reminded that giving by the wealthy is particularly sensitive to losses in disposable income. "We are looking to people making $200,000 and up to get more than $30 billion back into the nonprofit sector," added Sharpe.

Holly Hall. "." Chronicle of Philanthropy 08/29/2012.