Charity donors continued to give during past recessions but some causes were hit harder than others, according to an Institute for Philanthropy report.
New research into downturns since 1967 has revealed that the total value of donations in the US declined by an average of 1 per cent in years with at least one month of recession, and by 2.7 per cent in years with eight months or more of recession.
Donors did not adjust the amounts they gave in line with inflation during economic downturns, the research found.
"Trends in years of downturn have historically been characterised by slowdowns in growth as giving fails to keep up with inflation, rather than reductions in the amounts of current dollars donated," says the report, called Smart Funding in Tough Times: Philanthropic Funding in an Economic Downturn.
"This suggests that donors keep giving even when times are hard, although their donations may be worth less in real terms."
Donations to ‘human services' charities in the US rose during previous economic downturns, with an average increase of 5 per cent in years with eight or more months of recession.
However, education giving slumped by an average of 1.9 per cent.
The research, for financial services company Credit Suisse, reported that US charitable giving reached a record value of $306.39bn in 2007, with 74.8 per cent coming from individuals. The institute said it will shortly publish the full report on its website.