Charitable giving declines in 2012

By Kelly Cernetich

Christmas is a time of giving, with many charities experiencing a spike in donations from Thanksgiving until New Year’s which helps them make it through until the next holiday season.

But by 2012’s end, some organization’s coffers were not as full as they’d been in past years. The Blair County Habitat for Humanity’s was one of them.

Executive Director Santa Mosey said raising funds to build one home a year for a local family is a continuous struggle.

“The basic amount we need to build one house a year is $70,000,” she said.

The group recently finished a house, but Mosey said Habitat is $20,000 to $30,000 short for the next one. Some funds are acquired from Altoona’s Home investment program, but the money is not available until the house is completed and a family is living there.

“That becomes seed money for the next build,” she said.

Mosey said she knows many people limit their charitable giving to organizations that focus on a specific group, like animals or children, but people should remember when Habitat builds a family’s house, it gives their children a stable home environment and a permanent place to live.

Two years ago, Mosey started the chapter’s first mass mailing campaign, hoping to generate more donations. She said money trickles in at a slow pace and Habitat can’t begin a build without all funding in place.

“That’s been the case for the last couple years, unfortunately,” she said.

The Central Pennsylvania Humane Society’s Director of Outreach and Marketing Jill Reigh said a $100,000 donation goal is set every year for the holiday season, “although we would have been happy with three-quarters of that,” she said.

A final tally has not been made, but at last check the humane society had collected $40,000, short even of last year’s $65,000 total. Reigh said she couldn’t speculate as to why, but said several people stopped by a donation center at Logan Valley Mall to express their regret at not being able to donate.

“If they gave $100 last year, they just couldn’t [afford to] this year,” she said.

Reigh said there is a great deal of community support for an organization she said “doesn’t turn any animal away,” but uneasy feelings toward the economy and the guarded political climate may have prevented some from opening their wallets to give.

Reigh said people often express regret that they can’t donate much, but she always reminds them that any dollar is a dollar the group

didn’t have before, and the animals appreciate it.

“We thank all the people that support us, and continue to support us,” she said.

The Salvation Army Western Pennsylvania Division’s Altoona facility was one of the lucky few that surpassed its goal by a few hundred dollars, according to Commanding Officer Capt. Darlene Means. The goal was $100,000.

The Salvation Army Western Pennsylvania Division as a whole did not fare as well. Group officials announced Monday the division fell short of its $2.83 million goal by about $270,000.

“Although we missed this year’s goal, we did thankfully manage to do better than 2011,” said Maj. William H. Bode, divisional commander, in a press release. The 2011 goal was nearly $3 million, and organizers fell short that year by nearly $498,000.