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Local nonprofits brace for a humbug holiday after Giving Tuesday donations drop


Between 20 and 30 percent of charitable giving occurs during the final stretch of the year, according to the Giving USA Foundation. But this year, donors seem to be tightening the purse strings.

Each year on Giving Tuesday, Land O’ Lakes Arts asks donors to contribute to a specific community arts experience. Last year, the organization asked for support for its Car Park music series. This year, it asked for money for the music series and a sound garden.

But Giving Tuesday donations this year were down 90 percent.

And that’s not all. Jennifer Anderson, LOLA’s executive director, says two significant donors cut their contributions in half last month.

While the organization is financially healthy overall, Anderson says she’s pausing to consider what will happen if the giving slump continues.

“We are taking a look at our budgeting for next year and we’ll take that into account,” she says. “Our supplies go up and hopefully our donations will stay the same, but it’s also reality that they might not.”

LOLA is not the only local nonprofit to find itself in this position.

Tammy Modic, the director of the Northwoods Alliance for Temporary Housing, says her nonprofit has struggled to gain sponsorships and raise attendance at in-person fundraising events.

ArtStart in Rhinelander also saw a decrease in Giving Tuesday donations.

Traci Stinebrink, ArtStart’s development and communications associate, says fewer people donated during the organization’s social media campaign this year, but those who did gave more.

“That leads me to wonder if the folks who have a more modest budget for giving have to cut back during this unstable financial climate we’re living in right now,” she says.

ArtStart’s fundraiser illustrates a national trend.

The Fundraising Effectiveness Project found that the second quarter of 2022 saw a sharp drop in the number of small donors who typically give less than $500. There were also fewer new donors than in 2021.

However, the Fundraising Effectiveness Project also found that major donors gave more. Their donations increased by about 6 percent.

That’s still less than the second quarter's 8 percent inflation rate though, leaving nonprofits like ArtStart, which relies on donations for half of its funding, in a tough spot.

It’s why Stinebrink is asking people to remember the impact those nonprofits have on the community.

“There’s a ton of wonderful nonprofit organizations in our community that truly have impact,” she says. “If you look, you will see the impact our nonprofits are having.”

Erin Gottsacker worked at WXPR as a Morning Edition host and reporter from December 2020 to January 2023. During her time at the station, Erin reported on the issues that matter most in the Northwoods.
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