RALEIGH, N.C. — Americans are “very pessimistic” about the economy, but the nation’s nonprofit organizations look set to ride out the storm as donors focus on the greater good, a new nationwide research study suggests.

“Despite widespread donor pessimism about the economy, it does not appear that donors intend to significantly reduce their charitable donations this year,” says the annual Donor Insight Study by nonprofit consultancy firm DickersonBakker. The national online survey of 2,358 largely faith-based donors took place mid-year.

Amid soaring inflation, a wobbly stock market, and signs of a recession, more than eight out of 10 donors said their giving would stay the same or increase this year, the report says.

That’s a welcome relief for America’s 1.5 million nonprofit organizations that rely on donations to fund programs ranging from feeding the hungry and sheltering the homeless to protecting endangered wildlife.

In past years, the annual study has proven remarkably accurate in predicting charitable giving patterns.

“As we forecast, 2021 was a record year for charitable giving, with Americans donating a total of $484 billion to nonprofit organizations,” said Derric Bakker, president of DickersonBakker, a firm that helps charities, causes, churches, and schools raise funds.

Heading Toward Recession?

Grappling with what’s being called a “cost-of-living crisis,” nearly nine out of 10 Americans believe the economy will dive into recession this year, according to the study, while fewer than two out of 10 expect their income to rise in 2022.

But while three out of four donors have also seen their stock market investments drop this year, the vast majority say it won’t affect their charitable giving.

Lower-level and mid-level donors are more likely to keep giving at the same level as last year than major donors — those giving multi-thousand-dollar gifts. But major donors are still more likely to give slightly more this year than last, “leaving the door open for a major gift appeal at year-end,” according to the report. Many nonprofits receive a third or more of their total revenue during the all-important, year-end holiday season.

‘Characteristically Generous’

“Despite the squeeze on their budgets, Americans are very much still in a characteristically generous frame of mind,” Bakker said. “They’re driven by the pressing needs they see around them — needs they see increasing, especially close to home.”

Nearly eight out of 10 identify their local church or place of worship as a top-giving priority, and nearly half say they intend to donate to causes that help vulnerable people in their local community.

Women are “far more likely than men to think people’s needs will proliferate in the next six months,” the report says.

“It’s never been more vital for nonprofits to clearly communicate the urgent need and show donors how they’re making an impact,” Bakker said. “Organizations that don’t jump on the opportunity to engage with donors now may miss out on the chance to remain top-of-mind for them.”